Companies unveil automotive software products

In a statement, Microsoft said the software will enable manufacturers "to build next-generation, in-car computing systems that improve safety, communications, information and entertainment."

Automotive Internet access is of increasing interest to drivers, Microsoft said. In addition to sending content to back-seat entertainment systems, Internet links provide motorists with access to news, traffic updates, instant messaging, and navigation assistance.

The company said Germany's Bosch and Japan's Denso have announced plans to produce in-vehicle devices based on the platform.

Also at Convergence 2000, Sun Microsystems and General Motors subsidiary OnStar announced plans to collaborate on Java-based, open software for in-vehicle systems. In a statement, the companies said they will ensure the system is open by soliciting input from the industry and releasing the resulting specifications to the automotive industry and standards bodies.

OnStar services, such as safety features, diagnostics, and stolen vehicle tracking, use wireless technology and the GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite network. According to GM, OnStar is available on 32 of GM's 54 models for the year 2001, and will be on about a million GM vehicles by the end of this year. OnStar services also will be offered on 2001 Lexus and 2002 Acura models.

And Intel announced plans to collaborate with IBM on a non-proprietary, standards-based in-car client platform. The companies said in a statement that the platform will enable developers to create Java-based wireless applications based on Intel's XScale chip microarchitecture.

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