The battle for the technological car dashboard of the future is about to heat up. Following demos from Android and from Apple, Microsoft is also developing a platform — Windows in the Car — that will put the company’s smartphones, content and apps front and center of the driving experience. But hopefully in a way that isn’t too distracting.
First demonstrated at one of the sessions at its BUILD developers conference, Windows for the Car would use the same customizable tile interface that will be familiar to anyone who owns a Nokia Lumia handset or has recently upgraded to Windows 8/8.1 on their PC.
Just like Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Open Automotive Alliance or OAA (essentially Android for the car), Microsoft’s system would offer drivers access to their music libraries, turn-by-turn directions via Here and Bing maps and search, voice calls and text messaging. Although it is very much a work in progress, Microsoft doesn’t really need to play catch up.
Until this year, Microsoft was the brains behind the Ford Sync — the company’s in-car informatics and telematics system that offered a selection of mirrored ‘car-safe’ versions of smartphone apps and responded to voice commands.
For those worried that competing mobile operating systems are going to become an issue when choosing their next car, there is some good news.
The Microsoft system uses MirrorLink to connect to a car’s screen and for pushing information between connected devices. MirrorLink is an existing technology and one already supported by a host of car companies, from the aforementioned Ford to BMW.
That means that if Microsoft does bring its system to market, it could work with older vehicles, and new cars would be able to support it as well as either Apple or Google’s platform too.