Microsoft wants to connect your car to the cloud, signs up Nissan and BMW

    Microsoft really wants to be in your car. At CES, they unveiled their Connected Vehicle Platform where they want to provide the brains of a connected car, to auto makers.

    As with all good car platform announcements, they need to come with an announcement of partners who’ve signed up. So far Microsoft have Nissan, Renault and BMW on-board. So what will they be providing to these auto manufacturers and their customers?

    Microsoft say their platform will deliver a set of experiences that are safe, productive and fun. This means as vehicles continue to increase in connectivity they’ll offer certain level of driver assists, like voice input using Cortana. As we move further into driving autonomy, Microsoft wants to respond to growing customer demand in 5 key areas.

    • Telematics and predictive services
    • Improved in-car productivity
    • Advanced navigation
    • Connected ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems)
    • Customer insights
    • Help build autonomous driving capabilities

    Microsoft have a couple of big assets on their side. First is Cortana and the fact millions of people have it available to them in their PCs and Xbox’s, but the big missing piece of the puzzle is mobile. With a failed attempt at being the third player in mobile, the device you have in your pocket when you enter your car, the device with all your contacts, your calendar etc is all with another provider – Google or Apple.

    In 2017 and beyond, the days of asking people to physically connect a cable for infotainment functions should be over. Vehicles should recognise the driver and if there are other occupants, if they are known to the vehicle. Your playlist, your reminders, your vehicle configuration settings should all be implemented the instant you enter the vehicle, automatically and this is the critical connection that Microsoft needs to solve. They need a relationship with you and that can only come from the digital device you carry.

    Any connected experience that doesn’t involve your mobile, leaves multi-user vehicles having to deal with smart keys that carry profile information or at least an ID that online services have mapped to you.

    Today, the car is more than just a ride between two places — it is a hub of activity for daily life. People are looking to have truly connected experiences in their cars so that they can get more done, save time and make life easier. While safety and security are baseline requirements, our services can help make a person’s work day more efficient. For instance, imagine that Cortana seamlessly connects you whether you’re at home or in your car. Let’s say you’re on your phone at home and tell Cortana to set up a meeting for you and your colleague the next morning at a coffee shop. The next time you get in your car, Cortana reminds you of the morning meeting and starts navigation to get you to that coffee shop.

    The second big asset is Microsoft’s Azure platform. There’s no underestimating the opportunities that are afforded by having worldwide cloud infrastructure that scales. When vehicles continue to create more data points, want to connect with each other and infrastructure, the amount of data that needs to be processed is enormous, especially when you enter the field of navigation.

    Even today, determining the best route to take on a multi-point trip, like that of a local courier company is a complexity that requires serious compute resources. If they are able to leverage their cloud services to account for congestion, roadworks, tollways and speed limits, and reliably deliver a driver to their destination fastest that other vehicles on the road, that’s a massive selling point if Microsoft and partners can pull it off.

    With 85% of Fortune 500 companies already relying on Microsoft’s cloud, there’s also big opportunities in corporate fleets and Office 365 integration. Of course in Windows 10, Cortana ingrates with Office 365 and would allow the platform to deliver calendar reminders, but once the cars are driving themselves, its more likely you’ll be working away on an actual connected laptop rather than simply voice requests.

    What is on offer here with Microsoft’s Connected Vehicle Platform are some new, seriously awesome experiences, not possible today.

    Imagine your car is due for a service, the car would know this and also know what’s wrong, like it needs oil, new tyres, etc from on-board telematics. This data could be communicated to the manufacturer where an automated check of repair shops nearby your location is performed. Better yet, there’s real-time opportunities like if they have a cancellation, when you’re in the area, you could receive an alert to offer that service appointment to you. This benefits you as you get the car serviced faster and the business who fills an available spot in their calendar. You could accept or decline using voice through Cortana and its real-time, connected services that would make a meaningful difference in our lives.

    These scenarios do rely on the success of Office 365 continuing to reach small and medium enterprise to be locally relevant, but the vehicle servicing is just the start. If the car knows who you are and other parts of your life, the same experience could be done with doctor appointments.

    More information at

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

    Leave a Reply


    Latest posts


    Related articles