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Microsoft powers a Fiat

Microsoft powers a Fiat

Microsoft's quest for world domination hit a snag with the very entrenched automotive market, but the first signs of a dam break occurred in its partnership with Fiat. At the Geneva Auto Show, Microsoft showed off its Blue&Me system in a Fiat and an Alfa Romeo. As its name suggests, Blue&Me sets up a Bluetooth network for integrating devices such as cell phones and MP3 players. Although there aren't any Bluetooth MP3 players yet, more than 140 cell phones are supported, a much greater number than most carmakers' stingy compatibility lists. But Blue&Me is much more than simple Bluetooth support--it's a whole software architecture with a hardware reference design. The current system, as implemented by Fiat, also supports a voice-command system and a glovebox-mounted USB port. Microsoft's architecture is expandable and upgradable, so different carmakers can offer different applications, and a five-year-old car can have its operating system updated for the latest gizmos.