At least half of all vehicles sold in 2006 will provide at least basic telematics services, according to a senior Microsoft Corp. executive.
Title: Group vice president, productivity and business services
Company: Microsoft Corp.
Thesis: Microsoft wants to work with automakers and suppliers to help drivers make their commute time more productive.
These offerings would include voice-activated navigation and entertainment systems, Jeff Raikes told the Automotive News World Congress.
Raikes, a group vice president who was responsible for the product strategy and design of Microsoft Office, said his company's goal is to partner with automakers and their suppliers to make commuting more productive.
"We want the auto industry to view Microsoft as a great partner in delivering on this vision of telematics within the automotive experience," Raikes said.
Microsoft brands its strategy to connect in-vehicle devices with outside services as Car.NET. It has two main tools in its Car.NET strategy:
1: Windows CE for Automotive, an operating-system software for such in-vehicle devices as navigation or entertainment systems.
2: Microsoft Mobile Information Server for Automotive, software that runs on computer servers.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant, which launched a dedicated automotive business unit five years ago, said additional automotive applications are expected in the next 12 to 18 months. Suppliers such as Visteon Corp. and Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. are among those working with Microsoft.
Microsoft's vision is to provide consumers widespread connectivity to multiple electronics systems inside and outside the vehicle. One practical example, he said, would be a system that automatically directs a driver to the closest service station upon determining that the vehicle needs fuel.
"Every year, the automobile manufacturer will be able to take something from the Car.NET initiative and say we have these new capabilities for you this year," Raikes said. "We'll fit very well into the model year approach. I could see us becoming a very significant part of how each new model year differentiates from the previous year."
However, whether or not automakers choose to market the Microsoft brand to consumers is not crucial, he added.
"The Microsoft brand name, in the context of the automobile manufacturer, should be something that brings value to them," Raikes said.
"If we achieve that, then automakers will want to reference that it's powered by Microsoft Windows. If the manufacturer doesn't perceive the value in the brand, …then they'll be less likely to reference the brand. It's incumbent on us to deliver the value that gets them excited."