Windows (also) Takes on Autos

PDF Print E-mail

At the BUILD 2014 Microsoft shows off a prototype of Windows in the Car, a platform the unkind might describe as the Windows Phone equivalent of Apple's recently announced CarPlay in-vehicle interface.

Windows in the CarMind, Microsoft has been an auto industry presence for a long time-- at least 15 years according to Microsoft developer Steve Texeira. One can find Windows CE- and Windows Automative-powered infotainment systems in BMW, Fiat, Ford, Kia and Nissan cars, but the company believes it is time for a Metro-style update.

Like CarPlay, Windows in the Car mirrors Windows devices into the built-in car display using a touch- and car-friendly interface. It looks a bit like a mini-Windows 8, complete with swiping gestures and large tiles for supported apps. The demo sees the user selecting different functions, including navigation, calls, media control and even driving assessments, and voice commands via Cortana technology also make a showing.

Connectivity comes via Mirrorlink, the Car Connectivity Consortium-developed standard found in Nokia Symbian devices and the Sony Xperia Z smartphone. A number of auto (Citroen, Honda, Toyota and VW) and head unit (Alpine, Pioneer) makers are already working on MirrorLink-ready models.

The version seen is still a prototype, and Microsoft says it is working on reducing "cognitive load," minimising on-screen "eye time" to 2 seconds or less, the reduction of different screen size effects and eliminating the use of tiny virtual buttons.

Check the video out in the link below at the 27-minute mark and judge for yourself. Will the auto dashboard become the battleground for the next great platform war, we wonder?

Watch Windows in the Car Video