Microsoft Corp. is taking its software deeper into the automobile, the company said today.
In addition to running voice-controlled communications systems similar to Ford Sync and Fiat Blue & Me, the next version of Microsoft Auto will be able to run a cars entire in-dash audio system. It can tune the radio, play a CD and transfer a CDs audio tracks to the cars audio hard drive.
If the same software can run everything, automakers dont need to install separate hardware to run the communications system and the stereo, said Velle Kolde, senior product manager for Microsofts Automotive Business Unit. He said the functions can be designed into a single piece of hardware, thus reducing costs.
Microsoft Auto 4.0 is due on the market this spring. Microsoft will unveil it this week at two European technology conferences and the Geneva auto show.
Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group is the first automaker to say it will use the new software. Last year, the Korean company announced a deal with Microsoft, but so far neither brand has revealed specific applications for the software. They plan to release vehicles featuring Microsofts technology next year, Kolde said.
Microsoft Auto is an operating system which can run various services and applications developed by Microsoft or other companies.
Ford uses a slightly older version of Microsoft Auto for Sync. In 2007, Ford began using the software for voice control of portable music devices and cell phones. Since then, it has added applications ranging from automatic crash notification to turn-by-turn directions.
In response to the growing number of companies developing applications to run on Microsoft Auto, the software company today will announce a certified training program for engineers at automakers, suppliers and other technology firms.