It may not be at the top of the list when you think about Microsoft, but they have a tidy little business in auto accessories running Windows Automotive (, ). The latest achievement is the realization of a deal they announced with Fiat in 2004:
Fiat and Microsoft will launch Blue&Me based on Windows Mobile for Automotive at the 2006 Geneva Motorshow later this month, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of in-car communication, infotainment and entertainment systems and providing all vehicles in the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Fiat Commercial Vehicle ranges with a competitive advantage.
Blue&Me will feature hands free access and control of the vehicle’s audio system and Bluetooth phones via voice recognition and includes reading text messages via text-to-speech conversion. It’s apparently designed with enough flexibility to work with a range of phones. There’s also a USB hub in the glove box for patching in your own audio content. Future plans include GPS and related navigation aids. Best line goes to Matt Whipp at PC Pro:
Suffice to say then that with the claimed voice activation needing no training, you are probably best advised not to play ‘Show me the way to Amarillo’ on your in-car Windows Media Player, unless you actually want to end up there.
Update: Google is in the automotive game as well, although it’s early days yet for them.