Why Microsoft should make cars

Microsoft often gets slated for breaking the rules of industrial standardisation. A few years ago General Motors issued a press release which stated:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive, but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again, because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You would have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off

Now I hired my first StreetCar yesterday. Car clubs are a great idea for people who only need to drive occasionally but there’s a catch. You end up driving a variety of cars and,unfortunately  modern cars are all different, so getting into an unfamiliar car for the first time is a nightmare:

They may or may not have an ignition key

Thanks to computer control, you may have to depress the clutch, put the hand brake on, or some other combination of events to get the engine started.

Central locking never works the same way

All the knobs and switches are in different places

The important dials like fuel and speed never look the same

Some cars deliberately switch the engine off when you’re at the lights so you think you’ve stalled it

Each car has its own unique way of getting into reverse (on a manual gearbox

There’s a start button to switch off the engine

While MS gets its fair share of bad publicity, it has, by and large, built a massive standardisation effort around the PC Windows platform.

Funny how the car makers have actually copied the IT industry and quite telling that GM is owned by the US Treasury Department, and Microsoft isn’t?