Microsoft updates its Windows for cars

Software maker has a new version of the software that powers Ford Sync and other in-car systems, though it will be a year or two before it winds up in new models.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read

Microsoft has a new version of Windows ready to roll.

The company is using an automotive trade show in Detroit to announce it is done with the latest release of the automotive version of its operating system. The current code is used by a variety of carmakers, most notably Ford, which uses it to power Ford Sync.

The latest version of Ford Sync, powered by Microsoft's automotive software, includes a "Do Not Disturb" button, among other features. Ford

Continuing on its theme of releases with the number 7 in them, Microsoft's latest in-car software is dubbed Windows Embedded Automotive 7. The new software builds in the latest version of Microsoft's Tellme speech recognition technology as well as a version of Silverlight.

Cars are just one of the many non-PC devices that run a version of Windows, a group that also includes ATMs and cash registers, among other products.

While Microsoft has wrapped up its work on the new car software, it must now be designed into new vehicles, which tend to have a long design cycle of at least 18 months to 24 months, so it will be some time before Redmond's latest is on the road. The company is announcing some new design wins for its software, including the Nissan Leaf, the Fiat 500 and the next generation of Ford Sync, though none are using the latest version of the Microsoft software.

Microsoft is also making some changes to its naming for its automotive software. In the past, Microsoft has actually used two different names for its in-car products, dubbing its more finished product Microsoft Auto and calling the underlying toolkit Windows Automotive. Although Microsoft is combining them into a single product name, it will still charge varying amounts per car depending on how much of Redmond's technology a vehicle is incorporating.

Microsoft doesn't disclose how much it charges per car, though the amount also varies based on volume. There are several million cars running some version of Microsoft's software.