CES 2017: Microsoft Connected Car 2.0 rolls along

Microsoft's 'Connected Car' strategy now has a new name: Microsoft Connected Vehicle. But the goal is the same: Linking cars to Microsoft cloud services.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

News flash: In 2017, Microsoft Connected Car is now known as Microsoft Connected Vehicle. Otherwise, Microsoft's automotive strategy remains the same as it was in 2016.

Credit: Microsoft

Last year, Microsoft execs made it clear that embedding some variant of Windows inside a car is not what Microsoft officials believe to be important -- or, more importantly, something they could attain.

Last year at CES, Microsoft execs talked up Microsoft's new Connected Car strategy. The goal was to connect vehicles to Microsoft cloud services, like Office 365 and Azure, rather than continuing to try to get Windows itself inside cars via "Windows Automotive" or some other embedded Windows variant.

At CES 2017, the song remains the same, as do many of the players.

In September 2016, Renault-Nissan announced it would make use of a number of Microsoft cloud services in its next-gen vehicles. Today at CES, Renault-Nissan reiterated that strategy, noting it would use Microsoft cloud services for navigation, predictive maintenance and remote car monitoring.

BMW announced at CES it would partner with Microsoft on Azure services for its BMW Connected cars. Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, may be part of this in the future. The exact BMW wording: "Voice-controlled capabilities already offered by Microsoft Cortana on a home PC or smartphone could in the future also be available on board a BMW vehicle." So... maybe.

Also: There's a Linux-powered car in your future | Now Amazon's Alexa is hitching a ride in your Ford | Volvo puts Skype in new 90 Series range of cars | AT&T works on connecting cars to everything | Faraday Future's FF 91: Here's the IT stack

And last week, Volvo Cars said it would make Skype for Business a feature of its new 90 Series cars. Volvo is exploring the use of Cortana in cars in the future. Again, no full-fledged Cortana commitment (yet).

Microsoft is not getting into the self-driving car business itself. Period. Full stop.

Instead, the Microsoft Connected Vehicle platform, in Microsoft's words, is"a set of services built on the Microsoft Azure cloud and designed to empower auto manufacturers to create custom connected driving experiences."

As Microsoft execs said in a Janaury 5 blog post, Microsoft Connected Vehicle "is not an in-car operating system or a 'finished product;"

Microsoft Connected Vehicle is a "living, agile platform that starts with the cloud as the foundation and aims to address five core scenarios that our partners have told us are key priorities: predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities," officials said. Cortana is one of these services for cars, as is Dynamics 365, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business.

In other words, RIP, again, Windows Automotive. Hello, Azure, and Office 365 services for cars.

CES 2017: Faraday Future takes on Tesla with the FF 91, a fully electric hyper-car:

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