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Windows Operating Systems Software Technology

Near-Future Fords to Feature Windows Automotive 441

dpbsmith writes "The Detroit Free Press reports that a Windows Automotive software suite named Sync will be featured in some cars available Spring 2007, all 2008 Ford models, and Lincoln and Mercury models later. The software does not, apparently, run the engine or do anything directly connected with transportation. It will, rather, allow the user to 'use their vehicle as a computer in key ways, such as hands-free cell phone calls or downloading music or receiving e-mail.' Bill Ford and Bill Gates were reported as saying that having high-definition screens in vehicles, speech recognition, cameras, digital calendars and navigation equipment with directions and road conditions will set car companies apart from their competitors in the future. 'There are going to be those who have it and those who don't. And even those who get it later are going to be a generation behind,' Ford said."
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Near-Future Fords to Feature Windows Automotive

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  • Right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taskforce ( 866056 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:21PM (#17409186) Homepage
    States and countries are banning using cell phones in cars left, right and centre and Microsoft, hot on the heels of the latest trends as always, decides the best place to put a PC is right on the dashboard.
  • by The Zon ( 969911 ) <> on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:23PM (#17409210)
    It will, rather, allow the user to 'use their vehicle as a computer in key ways, such as hands-free cell phone calls or downloading music or receiving e-mail.'
    I'm more worried about the RIAA impounding my car as evidence until the trial's over.
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:24PM (#17409214) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but this doesn't pass the "laugh test."

    We already have drivers chatting on cell phones. Now we want them downloading music and checking their email while driving?!? Close your eyes for a minute and imagine what your favorite busy intersection is going to look like with that going on. NOT pretty, huh?

    Don't get me wrong -- I (like pretty much everyone here) really like technology -- but there are already way too many distractions for even good drivers to handle. We need to either go with laws that require a low-distraction environment (no cell phones, video screens, etc) for drivers, or develop a foolproof autopilot system. And with the current state of technology, I think any "autopilot" option is basically only on the table as a scare tactic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:24PM (#17409220)
    A significant portion of automotive customers want quality, as in things that need fixing as little as possible, as in "Toyota quality", not more stupid gadgets that break. Also, if I was to spend money on gadgets, I'd want to keep them with me when I change cars and not have to re-buy them. I'd also want to be able to upgrade them and sell them separately, like computer parts.
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lexarius ( 560925 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:27PM (#17409262)
    I don't know what other people look for in cars, but my priorities run something like this: Price (within my budget), runs well, safety, good mileage, maneuverability, bells and whistles, overall appearance. Bells and whistles aren't an edge until other priorities are met. As it is now, my next car will be another foreign model.
  • by DrMrLordX ( 559371 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:28PM (#17409264)
    Those who "get it later" may wind up with software that has fewer bugs due to updates, patches, etc. This is a Microsoft OS we're talking about here. Even good MS software products require patching (usually).

    Will early adopters need to pull in to the dealership to get the latest patches, I wonder?
  • I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:38PM (#17409360) Homepage
    OK, I'm confused now - wasn't Ford's problem that they we're selling too few vehicles? This sounds like a solution to the very opposite problem to me.

  • by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:48PM (#17409460) Homepage Journal
    having ... navigation equipment with directions and road conditions will set car companies apart from their competitors in the future.

    Umm... most people here that want in-car navigation systems are already considering buying them. In Denmark there are tons of adverts for them all over the place, including a huge billboard not far from my home. If Bill Gates want to get Microsoft navigation systems as the standard, they better hurry up because they aren't innovating but just following in the others' footsteps (as usual).
  • by cherax ( 1039510 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:48PM (#17409470)
    Does either of these Bills even do any of these things (e.g. music download) while driving a car? Do they even drive their own cars? Given that just about any distraction (talking on a cell phone, being drunk, being a teen-ager, etc.) increases accident rates by 400%, are they prepared to take responsibility for the increased body count? Or, at the very least, for having given people greater opportunities to do serious harm with a machine originally intended for transportation? The car as entertainment center. The car as office. Sheesh.
  • by JFMulder ( 59706 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:53PM (#17409512)
    Why should THEY be responsible? It's the people who make the mistakes, not the constructor. There's way to use this in a very safe way. When the United States has more accidental deaths because of MP3 downloading while driving than of gun ownership related incidents (how many time little Bobby's got shot because they played with their dads gun?), then you might have an issue. In the meantime, there are far more dangerous stuff that is made available to people.
  • by eck011219 ( 851729 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:07PM (#17409650)
    As a person with a moderate stutter (which gets worse while I'm driving, coincidentally), I'm getting pretty sick of everything going to speech recognition. According to the article, this system will be controlled this way as well. It's getting so I can do less and less in my environment unless I can speak fluently. Now I'm going to have to speak fluently to listen to the flippin' radio? Blech. And really, are we going to trust MS with speech recognition after this []?

    Besides, what's wrong with cars now? They go, the radios have knobs, and we all know how to run them. If we want to listen to music that doesn't exist on the radio, we have devices for that, too. And with many new cars now being released with jacks for mp3 players, seems to me the problems are pretty much solved. The way it works now, you can pick and choose what devices you want, install or order them, and you don't have to fight through a whole computer UI (and let's be honest, it probably won't be as intuitive as it could be) to get to the stuff you want.

    And really, I hardly think the biggest problem that Ford currently has is the multimedia experience for its drivers. How about cars that run reliably first, and THEN turn your focus to how to bugger up my radio.
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:23PM (#17409774) Homepage Journal
    Yea! How about adding technology to cars that actually helps somebody *drive*, such as a HUD, navigation assistance, radar/sonar, etc.
  • by Loco Moped ( 996883 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:28PM (#17409832)
    (how many time little Bobby's got shot because they played with their dads gun?) About one for every 40,000 that get killed in auto wrecks because their parents are yammering away on cell phones. You could have chosen a better argument to make your point.
  • by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:34PM (#17409888)
    I would hope that the only wiring that was shared between critical and non-critical systems would be the +12V and GND.

    While I suppose a massive hardware failure in the entertainment system could cause a brownout (And it'd be hard to blame that on Microsoft), the fuses should take care of that.

    I hope.
  • by vought ( 160908 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:54PM (#17410092)
    Dear Ford:

    Please deliver what we want, not what you think we want.


    -Just enough car. You do a good job with your European models, satisfying the market there. How about providing US customers with (!) Japanese-style size, build quality, and engine choices? Here in the US, we can get small cars with too little power or poor gas mileage. We can get medium-sized cars with too little power or worse gas mileage. We can get large cars that uniformly have terrible mileage. Cut this computer crap and build a fundamentally good car, and I'll dump my Toyota and Honda.

    -Build for the world. You are probably aware of this, but your vehicle lineup in the US conforms only to US mileage requirements. While truck sales figures might tempt you to think otherwise, most of us don't enjoy spending lots of money on fuel. Why not maximize efficiency of operation and manufacturing at the same time? Build some cars with reasonably efficient powerplants and offer them in the US as well as in other markets in which you choose to compete.

    -Stop treating us like idiots. Your consumers won't desert you if you choose to produce and market cars that provide space, safety, and mileage that are far above what you build today, but Ford will get few additional sales from the addition of a new techno-geegaw that saps driver attention. Ford, you've already lost huge numbers of sales to Japanese manufacturers on the low and mid-range, non-commerial/nonfarm customers aren't buying many trucks anymore, and at the high end, well, let's just say Luxury trucks are a dead-end. The smart money is in safe and sane european luxo-sedans and a few odd folks buy Cadillacs.

    And yet, when all is said and done - you could have seen your current sad sales situation coming - you chose to keep making giant SUVs and marketing 500-hp Mustangs that only do two things well (use copious amounts of $2.50 Premium fuel and go fast in a straight line). You ignored research and development on the technology that could provide cars that most Americans need in favor simply building lots of copies of the cars Americans kinda wanted during the late 90s. The roads are littered with 96-01 SUV boom Explorers that have terrible resale value and FoMoCo used the money from this unprecedented profitable period to...make more and bigger trucks, and to create the "new" Mustang - a car that while not totally based in 1960s technology, gets terrible mileage anyway and provides little utility for the vast majority of drivers. But hey - the base model sells well in cities where daddy can afford to buy his sorority daughter a new toy during her sophomore year.

    So do us a favor, Ford. Stop building cars to make Car and Driver happy. The Accord's been on their ten best list for 23 of 25 years, and not because it's super fast, super-roomy, or super anything - but because it does most things well - why not just create an Accord with a Ford badge instead of spending millions on developing 500hp Mustangs that get laughed out of the automotive press?


    The Pragmatic American Car Buyer
  • []
    The 25-year-old ... died on Sept. 8 from head injuries he received Sept. 2 when [the driver] hit him with her car because she was downloading ring tones to her cell phone instead of paying attention to driving.
    Until we get autonomous vehicles that can take us from A to B without a driving having to pay attention, can we stop surrounding the driver with every means under the sun to not be paying attention.
  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .retawriaf.> on Saturday December 30, 2006 @02:24PM (#17410362) Homepage
    What we have here is an excellent example of why Windows is just *not* trusted for "critical systems". Even Ford is showing their lack of trust in Windows by relegating it to non-critical vehicle operations, regardless of how well it is advertised to work.

    Not to interrupt your reflexive slam here; but so what?
    I guess embedded vehicle control systems are just too important to be trusted to Windows.

    I wouldn't trust Fedora Core with an embedded vehicle control system either.
    Not every OS is suitable for every purpose. Even Linux (the desktop kind you can DL off the net or buy in the store [1]) isn't suitable for hard realtime uses. OTOH, an OS designed for hard realtime isn't suitable for a desktop. Being 'not trusted for critical uses' is nothing more or less than an attribute of a particular OS, not a bug or a failure. Without being able to discern between attributes and failures, it would make as much sense to slam the Space Shuttles OS for not being able to run Pine as it does to slam Windows for not being trusted for use as a critical system controller. There is simply no such thing as a 'one size fits all' OS.
    [1] I specify this because yes, there are various special purpose Linux distros available - including ones for hard and soft realtime. To call them all 'Linux' and set them as a group in comparison to Windows is somewhat misleading.
  • Re:Priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @08:50PM (#17412798) Journal
    Well, perhaps, but you might be surprised. If people's priorities didn't often change when they started earning real money, there wouldn't be a Republican party. ;)
  • by Keeper ( 56691 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @09:20PM (#17412986)
    Dear American car buyer:

    We'd be more than happy to sell the type of vehicle you describe if Americans would actually purchase them. In the meantime, while Americans continue to put trucks, SUVs, and cars with large displacement at the top of the sales charts, we'll be happy to continue building and selling them.


    The Real World.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming