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Redmond at the Wheel

The battle for the embedded OS market between Windows and Linux is moving into high gear with reports that Ford is putting its full corporate weight behind Microsoft. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported recently that Ford Motor Co. will unveil Sync, an in-car operating system developed by Microsoft.

Sync will allow in-vehicle, hands-free phone communication and other types of information transfers, such as e-mail or music downloads, according to the report.

Microsoft's Windows Automotive division has been around for a while. Sync is based on its existing automotive operating system, the WSJ wrote. The automotive division struck a deal with Fiat in 2004.

Burton Group analyst Peter O'Kelly says that while Sync isn't groundbreaking technology, it could have some appeal, and fits into Microsoft's game plan of late. Here's what he wrote to us in an e-mail, basing his comments on the WSJ article and not an official company briefing:

"While the rumored capabilities of the offering don't seem revolutionary -- many people already have Bluetooth-based phone integration in their cars today, for example -- I expect the option of having an end-to-end Microsoft solution will be attractive to some customers using Windows Mobile phones, and perhaps there will at some point be integration options for Windows laptops and other PC-centric devices as well (e.g., for expanded and simplified Microsoft Outlook synchronization, and perhaps music/other media synchronization as well)."

What do you think about Microsoft's move into automotive software? Will corporate coders soon be writing custom apps on top of the Sync OS for their automotive fleets? And what kind of applications would you like (and not like!) to see developed for an in-car OS? E-mail your thoughts to

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/03/2007 at 1:15 PM

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