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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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  • by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:30PM (#17409290)
    The fact that a given subsystem is not directly involved in things like braking isn't actually that reassuring.

    There was a submission to the RISKS digest a while ago - I cannot recall the exact details, but the problem was that non-critical software was able to cause what was effectively a denial of service attack on the car-wide shared data bus ring, and THAT stopped the brakes from working.

    If a software can affect a component or module which is necessary for a critical function, then that software *is* critial. Given the existance of for example shared data buses, pretty much everything is in fact critical.

  • by bjanz ( 573487 ) <bhjanz@ccsn[ ]c.com ['ein' in gap]> on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:35PM (#17409322) Homepage
    So, lemme see now: the Windows Automotive product will control the non-critical aspects of the vehicle, such as radio, cell phone, and other "navigation" features. But, it *won't* do anything really *useful* like control ignition, transmission shift speeds, antilock braking, etc. Those are already covered by Ford's existing embedded control systems.

    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.

    I guess embedded vehicle control systems are just too important to be trusted to Windows.

    So, one "boo" for using Windows *at all*, but one "thank g-d" for avoiding it where vehicle safety is concerned.

    re. cell phones, tv, and "heads-up" displays: most folks get distracted by stuff at the side of the road or conversations inside the car. Now we're adding yet more distractions. Look, let's just do it right: put a PAS (pedestrian aiming system) in the heads-up display and install "Grand Theft Auto"!


  • by dprovine ( 140134 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:37PM (#17409340)

    My question, based on less-than-satisfactory experiences as a customer with both companies, is "What happens when something goes wrong?"

    Will Ford say that it's not their responsibility to fix the troubles from Microsoft? Will users have to sign an EULA that says "This car comes with no warranty"?

    What if people try to get repairs for the system under the warranty, and Microsoft shafts Ford on supporting their stuff, the way Microsoft has shafted everybody they've ever partnered with? Can even Microsoft hold off a lawsuit from a major carmaker?

  • by juiceg ( 700027 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @12:39PM (#17409366) Homepage
    Anyone remember when this chap got locked in his car because the OS froze?

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/12/10525917 31421.html?oneclick=truestory [smh.com.au]

    I can hardly wait until "I got locked in my car" becomes a standard excuse for why you're late for a meeting.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:16PM (#17409712) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps, instead of the scenarios you point out, Windows Automotive will be the first flavor of Windows to get proper warranty.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @01:30PM (#17409846)
    A BSOD on the 405 in LA.

    Didn't Dylan write a song about this?

    Tangled up in Blue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 30, 2006 @03:28PM (#17410880)
    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.

    Then I shall invent my new product, "tire spikes" ala Spy Hunter. When you are lined up parallel to another car, press the button and it will spike their tires. It's the people who press the buttons. When the United states has more deaths from doing this than drunk driving, then it will become an issue..

    No karma mark down for joo
  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @03:30PM (#17410894)
    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.

    Well said, except that I like rear wheel drive (drive one and you'll see what I mean - it doesn't push like a pig around corners). So cloning the low- and mid-range Japanese models sold in the US isn't a great idea in my book. But no one has mentioned Ford's Australian division that produces (reputedly) good-quality rear-wheel drive midsize sedans. Import those and you'll be competing with the Euro car makers at 2/3 of their prices. Make sure to offer manual and hybrid drivetrains as well.


  • by The_Rook ( 136658 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @03:46PM (#17411024)
    this is no joke. early versions of the (windows ce based) idrive system on bmw 7-series cars would crash taking the enitre car with them. nothing would work including the windows and door locks. as i understand it, drivers, on occasion, would get trapped inside their cars and would have to break the car's window to get out.
  • by oyenstikker ( 536040 ) <slashdot@sbCOMMAyrne.org minus punct> on Saturday December 30, 2006 @04:22PM (#17411270) Homepage Journal
    Ford is screwed. They can't make money building Accord and Civic knockoffs. The profit margins are too low. Honda and Toyota can do it because they have much lower labor and insurance costs. The Big 3 can't; their expenses are too high. They have to make high profit margin cars. There are three proven markets for that: 1) Huge ugly trucks. Ford's bread and butter. 2) Exotics. Ford has, and still can, build a GT[40] that will compete with Porsches and Ferarris. But they don't have the beauty of the Porsches and Ferraris. There _is_ a substitution for cubic money, its called soul. 3) Luxery Sport. For whatever reason, Lincoln and Cadillac just don't seem to be able to find a good balance of power, handling, comfort, and style like BMW and Mercedes Benz have.

    There is another problem: it is the American car buyers. They don't want a simple, balanced, efficient car. They won't buy them. That is why you can't get a BMW 318i here anymore, and never could get a 316 or a 1 series or an Audi A3.
  • Re:Priorities (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @05:11PM (#17411510) Homepage
    You must be married. Single people care about the style of the vehicle as the #1 spot. Our culture is causing people to be single longer. Car companies can't pretend it is the 50s where everyone is married with children anymore.
  • by SaDan ( 81097 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @05:53PM (#17411778) Homepage
    Rather than amend the Clean Air Act to give Diesels a fighting chance, we defer to gas hogs and sophisticated catalysts.

    Eh? You are unaware of the new diesel engine and fuel regulations here in the USA, I take it? We're getting much cleaner fuel, which should mean it will be easier to import those sweet European diesel powered vehicles. The only question is whether the European cars will be able to pass our safety requirements.

    The EPA is also switching the way they rate vehicles fuel economy, which means we'll get betters numbers for MPG figures on newer vehicles.

    And, sophisticated catalysts aren't necessarily a bad thing if it means less harmful emissions from the vehicle.

    Your rant isn't nearly as informed as it could be, and I get the sense that you really don't know much about the industry.
  • One Ford was enough (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jeffgtr ( 929361 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @05:57PM (#17411804)
    I've owned one Ford. It was a Contour and had all sorts of bells and whistles. It was very unreliable, many things broke. It was a totally bad experience. My last two cars have been Toyota Corollas, very dependable, not as many gadgets but they had (have) all the ones that matter. Excellent experience with both. I used to be a windows user then switched to OSX because of the rock solid unix underpinnings and reliability. Quite happy with that decision. The thought of a Microsoft/Ford monstrosity won't be in my purchasing plans ever. As an aside. I recently had an Alpine CD player with Ipod interation, good grief thats distracting enough. I couldn't imagine fussing with a windowsish device while driving. It's a bad idea. Why can't American auto makers give us a car that just works, why can't they get that? No they have to do something like install Windows in the car to make it even more unreliable and user hostile.
  • by guisar ( 69737 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @08:55PM (#17412834) Homepage
    If this is the best Ford has got, not wonder they are tanking. I can see powerpoint briefs instead of manuals, having to reformat your stereo and of course being lost when the required (expensive) upgrade to the nav system refuses to read your old route files. Come on Ford, why not bring back a big of reliability, build quality and mileage instead of wasting your R&D on this nonsense. Given your presence in the EU and their attitude toward Microsoft, do you really publicizing this relationship is wise?
  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Saturday December 30, 2006 @08:59PM (#17412856)
    They are actually quite good.

    So everyone says. The problem is that Ford won't ever admit that its Aussie (and possibly Euro, but Australian travel conditions are closer to American conditions) divisions kick the asses of its domestic designers. So the Australian cars won't be brought to the US unless they're an expensive "premium" product. Too much "not invented here" disease.

    Besides, Australian cars are rather "simple" for American tastes - when GM brought the GTO here, everyone bitched and moaned about how bland and feature-less the car was. Very few people complimented GM on showing good taste and restraint in design.


  • by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <(gro.tserofed) (ta) (todhsals)> on Saturday December 30, 2006 @09:09PM (#17412914)
    The Toyota Prius has a very nice automotive computing system with high def screen, speech recognition, bluetooth phone access, and a zillion other features. No Redmond involvement at all...

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"