Windows on the road: Microsoft Auto becoming entertainment platform for more cars 

Microsoft Corp. plans to announce another deal with a major automaker to use its Microsoft Auto operating system by the end of the year. The global software giant already has two deals worldwide, including one to power Ford's popular Sync wireless hands-free communication and entertainment system.


DETROIT– Microsoft Corp . plans to announce another deal with a major automaker to use its Microsoft Auto operating system by the end of the year, Martin Thall, general manager of Microsoft's automotive business unit, told the Detroit Free Press during a Tuesday meeting in Detroit.
The global software giant already has two deals worldwide.
One, in the United States, is with Ford Motor Co ., which last year used the operating system to launch Sync, a wireless hands-free communication and entertainment system. The other, which predated Ford, is with the Italian automaker Fiat SpA, which resulted in the launch of Blue&Me in 2006.
However, the exclusive rights to Microsoft Auto in the United States end later this year—opening the door for full-scale competition in the growing area of fully integrated in-car computer systems, which can assist in communications, entertainment and a variety of other functions, such as diagnostics and safety.
General Motors Corp . has offered some of these functions through its subscription-based OnStar feature for years. But Ford's Sync, which is sold for a one time price of $395, upped the ante.
While Thall praised Ford for being a pioneer in adopting its technology aggressively, he said Microsoft also wants to satisfy all the other automakers interested in its products.
"Demand exceeds our ability to please everyone," Thall said.
Other automakers, he said, are interested in catching up to Ford. Last year, more than 30,000 customers opted for Sync, making it one of the fastest-growing new products in the industry.
Sync is now offered in 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, and Ford plans to expand the technology to nearly all of its vehicles by the end of the year in hopes of putting its products on the consideration list for many consumers.
Microsoft has an ambitious plan to roll out its operating system and other products in the United States and globally.
Through automakers such as Ford and Fiat , as well as key suppliers such as Magneti Marelli , Siemens VDO and Alpine , Microsoft is hoping to help automakers meet their customers' needs in various parts of the market.
In the near-term, Thall said Microsoft will be focused on integrating various functions, such as navigation systems, traffic reports, and point-of-interest directories, among other items.
Fiat, for example, will soon be rolling out an enhancement to its Blue&Me system called Ecodrive, which gives drivers feedback about their driving to help them lessen their impact on the environment. Longer term, though, Thall sees Microsoft bringing more value to the lives of drivers as it strengthens its position online. That includes, he said, the ability to bring more relevant advertising to drivers, based on their location.
Thall, who drives a Cadillac Escalade with OnStar, said Microsoft wants to develop solutions that are relevant and accessible for everyday drivers. Ultimately, he said, Microsoft wants to become an "integral part of the vehicle."

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.