Microsoft drives forward Windows for dashboards

Microsoft is upgrading the version of its Windows operating system designed for use in car dashboards and expects to make a new...

Microsoft is upgrading the version of its Windows operating system designed for use in car dashboards and expects to make a new version of the software available to car makers in the first half of 2003.

Windows Automotive is a variation of the company's Windows CE operating system, which also makes up the foundation for software used to power handheld computers, smart phones and other devices. Microsoft first released its software for in-car computers in 1998 under the name Windows CE for Automotive.

The new version of the software will include support for voice recognition and the wireless technology Bluetooth. It will also include the .net Compact Framework, a runtime environment required to execute Web-based applications and services built using Microsoft's .net development tools. Those include such applications as hands-free mobile phone service, digital music downloading and live traffic updates.

The .net Compact Framework is a subset of technology already available for servers and PCs, which is still in beta testing.

Toyota uses the current version of Windows CE for Automotive for its G-Book car computers, which are expected to be installed this month in some Toyota cars sold in Japan. BMW and Volvo also use the operating system for dashboard computers, according to Microsoft.

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