Microsoft's automotive operating system could help the Japanese companies create applications for real-time traffic updates, route planning, delivery of e-mail, and entertainment-related functions, the vendor said.
Microsoft reaffirmed its existing relationship with Denso -- a Japanese car component maker part-owned by Toyota. Monday's announcement also upped the ante of this relationship by expanding use of the operating system to Aisin, audio specialist Clarion, Xanavi Informatics, and major Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co.
Gonzalo Bustillos, director of business development for Microsoft's automotive business unit, said the agreements should help lower some of the costs associated with bringing cutting-edge technology to automobiles. He said Windows CE for Automotive could help ease the workload of developers trying to create applications for very different parts of a car. Additionally, the union of the five Japanese companies helps promote interoperability between car makers and device manufacturers.
"In Internet time, we have been working on this forever," Bustillos said of Microsoft's automotive efforts. Over the past five years, the vendor has released several versions of the automotive software, with release 2.0 currently available. Car makers should see version 3.0 during the third quarter of this year, he added.
Microsoft has already forged deals with a number of automotive-related firms including audio player Delphi Automotive Systems and Clarion's US branch. Bustillos said the Japanese market tends to rely on consortiums or broad market agreement to make these types of moves, but added that other automotive companies would soon benefit from Monday's Japanese deals.