Ford and Microsoft’s lead in car-infotainment

As demand for more energy efficient cars has driven the development of car technologies in the past several years, another aspect of the driving experience, infotainment, is also rapidly changing and Microsoft with partners like Ford is clearly leading the way.

Ford’s second-generation SYNC with MyFord Touch included in the newly announced Focus Electric, originally based on top of the Microsoft Auto platform, offers an impressive range of functionality presented with a futuristic user interface both inside the instrument panel and center console. Specific to EVs are numerous customizations that inform the driver of their driving habits and energy usage.

Microsoft’s early investments into a platform optimized for the automotive industry as early as 1998 might pay off very well in the near future as more car companies will leverage more functional and better designed infotainment systems as a differentiator in the marketplace.

The latest release, Windows Embedded Automotive 7, offers an impressive range of features including support for Silverlight UIs, flawless voice recognition via Tellme, connectivity to a wide range of mobile devices and comprehensive media management features.

No matter how foolishly easy it is to make a joke about blue screens in a car, the reality is Microsoft clearly leads the industry and might very well show up in your next car.

Disclosure: Ford Motor Company paid for my travel and accommodations at the 2-day Driving Green Technology event.

4 insightful thoughts

  1. Hey Long, could you ask the Ford people if it is their intention to distance their brand from Microsoft by branding the new “car-infotainment” services MyFord Touch and no longer adding the “Powered by Microsoft” tag-line that would always follow in adverts and promotional material? Or why is it just no longer “Powered by SYNC”?

    1. I think with MyFord Touch, although it still integrates “SYNC” functionality, there’s a lot more of Ford software and technologies so that they’re playing down the Microsoft stuff a little.

      1. I see. It is interesting though, how Microsoft will plan to manage auto software/services branding. So far, it seems like Microsoft is either not too worried or too convincing about being a key player in the branding (as with Kia’s own separtely branded “car-infotainment” UVO). Seems like a more Android-esque approach, where the manufacturer can call it whatever they want after their customizations. Quite interesting…

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