Microsoft revs up war in the connected car space

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Windows ‘in-car’ OS behind Apple and Google on the grid but with a few tricks up its sleeve    

The battle for control of the inside of the vehicle has intensified with Microsoft announcing Windows for the connected car.

The platform, only a concept at this stage, will see a form of the Windows operating system being used to control the vehicle infotainment system. It would use Cortana, its voice recognition service announced as part of Windows Phone 8.1, to allow users to make calls, play music and more.

Full details of functionality have not been released and with the technology still in its early stages, no release date is imminent. Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up in the connected vehicle market but it does have some tricks up its sleeve.

Nokia’s HERE mapping service was included as part of the deal for the Finnish manufacturer’s handset business. Integration with the navigation service, which is recognised as one of the best on the market, and other applications such as Xbox radio, could offer it a route into the connected car market.

While Microsoft is a latecomer, Apple and Google have been making headway for some time. Developers are also keen for standardised operating systems to be deployed in vehicles so they can write one piece of code instead of tweaking for different automakers.

Apple announced its concept, now called CarPlay, last year. It will integrate post-4s iPhone models into the vehicle and can be controlled by Siri. Ferrari, Honda,Hyundai,Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have all announced it will be available in models by the end of this year.

Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance earlier this year and says it expects to bring a form of the Android OS to the market by the close of 2014. Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and chipmaker NVIDIA have thrown their weight behind this project.

Apple and Google are both desperate to enter the vehicle as it will give them access to the one place where users are, mostly, unable to use their smartphone.

It would also allow them to build up a much richer picture of people’s daily lives, providing data on what time they are travelling and where they are travelling to.

Targeted advertising could then be pushed towards a driver depending on their particular habits.

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