Microsoft launches Windows Automotive 4.2

Microsoft Corp. upgraded its embedded operating system for automobiles on Monday, adding support for wireless networks such as Bluetooth and IEEE802.11.

Windows Automotive 4.2 now supports Bluetooth Version 1.1 for voice and data services, and IEEE802.11 wireless networking, including the 802.1x extensible authentication protocol, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is working with telematics developers internationally on hardware and services to work with the new software, it said. Its own research has shown that three out of five drivers would like this sort of technology in their cars, it said.

However, it may be some time before cars, in the U.K. at least, offer the Web services Microsoft is touting.

"I know (Bluetooth) is something we've definitely been looking at, but there's nothing giving me the impression it's just around the corner," Jonathan Griffiths, a spokesman for Jaguar Cars Ltd. in Coventry, England, said Tuesday.

"We do offer satellite navigation systems but nothing offering traffic updates and other devices. Obviously we're looking at it but I don't know when it'll happen," he said.

Lawrence Pearce, Honda Motor Co.'s U.K. spokesman in Slough, England, said that Honda does offer Web-based systems on its cars in Japan, but "talking to our people here, this kind of technology would appear to be a long way away. We're not even considering it here yet," he said.

Citroen U.K. Ltd. spokeswoman Joanna Ground in Slough, England, said that Citroen currently only offers Traffic Master Ltd.'s traffic software and satellite navigation systems. "We did have a concept car where you could e-mail from the car, but to be honest, it was just a concept, not a real system," she said.

Volvo Cars Co. spokesman Christer Gustaffson in Stockholm, Sweden, said that Volvo has looked at uploading data from a personal information device to a car, using Bluetooth, as the driver approaches. But again, he said this is only at the concept-car stage.

Microsoft representatives in the U.K. said they did not have any information on the software.

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