Microsoft Expands Presence in New Cars

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This week, Microsoft unveiled the new automotive operating system, which will bring improved speech commands, touch inputs, better hands-free Bluetooth phone communications and eventually more third-party applications. It’s an upgrade to the current Windows operating system that’s used in Ford Sync and Fiat Blue&Me.

The upcoming 2011 Nissan Leaf also uses Windows Embedded Automotive technology to search for EV charging stations and control the navigation system and other functions.

Fiat’s Blue&Me is a voice-controlled system that connects with Bluetooth-enabled phones and USB-connected devices, similar to Sync. The system will debut in the 2011 Fiat 500 in North America.

Kia’s new infotainment system, called UVO, is a hybrid of the new operating system and the old one. UVO has superior voice-recognition abilities compared with Sync and Blue&Me, Microsoft says.

Future systems will read messages out loud and allow users to reply to them with the new speech-recognition system. It will also download your smart phone’s email and text messages and stream audio from your Bluetooth-enabled phone to your car speakers. Right now, UVO, Blue&Me and Sync can only send predefined responses to text messages; they can’t deal with emails or create unique replies until they upgrade to the new operating system.

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