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Microsoft Windows in the Car to rival Apple CarPlay

Wed, 07 May 2014

Microsoft has announced a concept version of the Windows operating system aimed at in-car entertainment for the connected car.

Although details are limited at this stage, 'Windows in the Car' is set to challenge the already confirmed Apple CarPlay and Google’s Open Automotive Alliance, which is also aiming to bring the Android OS into vehicles.

Windows in the Car: features, apps, technology

As with the rival options, Microsoft’s in-car OS would be based on its existing Windows Phone software, adapted to suit the different demands of the driving environment.

Apps would include Maps – presumably based on Nokia’s highly respected HERE system, given that Microsoft acquired the Finnish mobile phone giant in April – Xbox Radio, Amazon MP3, Spotify and more.

Obvious additional features would include access to emails, the ability to make calls easily via Bluetooth, check messages and presumably access various forms of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. But there is also evidence of integration with car systems as well.

Windows in the Car: MirrorLink, launch date

It would work via MirrorLink technology, which is already being supported by a number of car manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and Citroen; MirrorLink essentially replicates your familiar phone operating environment on a vehicle’s built-in display.

Windows in the Car is officially nothing more than a concept at this stage, so exact launch timings are a long way from being confirmed. But with Apple CarPlay set to become available within months and Google promising in-car Android before the end of 2014, Microsoft doesn’t want to hang around.

Let’s not forget that the big M already has some experience in the automotive sector – Ford’s Sync system is based on Microsoft technology, as is Fiat’s Blue&Me.

Microsoft’s new ownership of Nokia is also likely to facilitate the move, with the smartphone company recently announcing a $100 million (£59 million) Connected Car Fund to promote the enhancement of in-car technology.

On Bing: see pictures of Microsoft in the Car
Nokia to launch $100 million Connected Car Fund
Apple reveals CarPlay at Geneva 2014
Apple CarPlay to be available on older cars

By CJ Hubbard, Motoring Research