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Microsoft isn't about to take a billion-dollar gamble with cars

Rather than attempting to join the auto-manufacturing fray, Microsoft is more interested in leveraging its current skills to hop on the future-mobility train.

Getty didn't have any good pictures of Peggy Johnson. For shame, Getty.

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I am, at times, an unabashed Apple fanboy. But I am also a fan of giving credit where it's due, even if that does involve Microsoft. Whereas a mountain of evidence would suggest that Apple is going to build a car and maybe even a sharing service, Microsoft is probably taking the smarter route by avoiding cars altogether and focusing on its strengths.

Peggy Johnson, head of business development for the software giant, told the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is taking its own route in the auto industry. "We won't be building our own autonomous vehicle but we would like to enable autonomous vehicles and assisted driving as well," Johnson said.

Saving itself from a potential billion-dollar boondoggle is but one part of its wise strategy. Microsoft is currently in talks with automakers to see how the company's software can be of help when it comes to building the next generation of connected, semi- or fully-autonomous cars. Whether that involves Microsoft's operating system, cloud services or anything else remains to be seen, but it appears that the company is open to all sorts of possibilities.

"You're sitting in the car for many, many minutes a day. Can that be part of your new office, can it be your new desk, a place where you actually get work done? We believe it can," Johnson said. "Each of them had a little something different that they wanted."

And therein lies the beauty in Microsoft's strategy. Instead of spending a ton of money to put one product out -- a whole car -- Microsoft is taking the scattershot angle, putting as many of its established or already-in-development products into as many cars as possible.