Microsoft sees cars as the next frontier for computing.
We're going well beyond technology that can control the engine or keep you from skidding in the slush. We're moving beyond telling your car to raise the temperature or play the latest from the Scrayper Boyz.
Combine voice recognition with only slightly more accurate GPS technology and a drunk can get behind the wheel, blow a .12 and have said vehicle automatically get him home, perhaps running the hazard lights as a warning to others.
Once your software is at the heart of that application, then it's bound to be adapted by governments and traffic agencies for traffic control worldwide.
Question is, will proprietary or open source software be at the heart of that future?
Proprietary companies like Microsoft say it should be proprietary because they can innovate. As chief strategist Craig Mundie said at the company's TechFest last week:
"More than ever we're committed to this investment, enabling our researchers and developers to continue advancing technology for challenging societal problems and pushing the boundaries of computing in exciting ways."
Question is, how big a market head start does this innovation deserve? Open source says a year or two, patent law says 20 or so.
Where does TomTom fit in? If GPS can remain proprietary open source will lack the enabling technology with which to get into the game. If Microsoft can keep open source out of future cars, it can control them all -- foreign and domestic.
That seems a much more important point to protect than keeping GPS out of Netbooks.