Windows in the car (image 001)

At the annual Build conference in San Francisco last week, software giant Microsoft unveiled its upcoming new platform for automotive, Windows in the car. The software, which appears to have borrowed some ideas from Apple’s CarPlay, could succeed Sync, Microsoft’s ill-fated in-car solution running on the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system.

Microsoft’s largest partner for Sync, Ford, in February announced plans to stop producing Sync-equipped vehicles. Seeing where things were heading, coupled with weak support from car manufacturers, probably played an important factor in the decision to come up with a connected car software of the future, from scratch…

In its current incarnation, Windows in the car requires a Windows Phone device, but Microsoft should be able to add support for the feature to its Windows 8 desktop operating system.

It should be noted that Microsoft bills Windows in the car as an early concept, one without a firm release date. That said, folks at Redmond did acknowledge that they’ve been testing out Windows in the car in both simulators and real-world vehicles.

Microsoft also made noise of the fact that Windows in the car will be open to developers from the get-go.

“There’s this opportunity for application developers to also participate in this ecosystem in a couple of different ways,” Microsoft’s product executive Steve Teixeira said in his Build conference presentation.

He continued:

You can imagine that, maybe if my car’s in park, I can run any kind of arbitrary app, you know, project that up to this screen.

But if my car’s in drive mode, one of the things that we will aim to do is enable application builders to write apps that conform with good, safe drive mode behavior and safe drive mode user interface standards.

Windows in the car (image 011)

There’s even a marketplace app so drivers can download – if need be – supported apps from third-party developers, while their device is in the car mode.

This is somewhat similar to Apple’s CarPlay which does support select third-party music applications such as Spotify (with more to come later), but with one huge difference: CarPlay has no park mode that would enable drivers to project ANY iOS app to their vehicle’s in-car screen.

Here, check out the video of Windows in the car, courtesy of The Verge.

Windows in the Car features the familiar Metro tile interface, redesigned for in-car use with driver safety in mind. Drivers will be able to pin any app they want on the start screen for quick access.

Windows in the car (image 008)

If the video is anything to go by, Windows in the car will support messaging with voice input via the upcoming Cortana voice assistant, driving directions courtesy of Bing Maps, music playback with Xbox Radio and FM radio, advanced phone features with in-call options and voicemail access and more.

Check out a set of screenshots below depicting the various aspects and proposed features of Windows in the car.

Windows in the car (image 002)

Windows in the car (image 003)

Windows in the car (image 004)

Windows in the car (image 005)

Windows in the car (image 006)

Windows in the car (image 007)

Windows in the car (image 009)

Windows in the car (image 010)

Unlike CarPlay which taps BlackBerry’s QNX software to connect your iOS device to a bunch of different proprietary infotainment systems car vendors use or support, Microsoft’s solution is based on the industry-standard MirrorLink protocol.

MirrorLink is owned by the Car Connectivity Consortium, which had 56 members as of May 2012, including almost all major automobile and mobile device manufacturers in the world, including Motorola, Alpine and Pioneer.

MirrorLink currently works with Sony’s Xperia Z series Android phones and has aftermarket potential given that both Alpine and Pioneer committed to shipping MirrorLink-ready aftermarket solutions. Car makers Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and Citroen confirmed work is underway on adding support for MirrorLink to their vehicles.

Google, too, announced its Android-based in-car infotainment integration that will launch across a wide range of car models and industry partners later this year.

Although some manufacturers, like launch CarPlay partner Mercedes-Benz and electronics maker Pioneer, hinted at aftermarket CarPlay solutions for older devices, they later back-tracked on their vague claims and said that supporting older vehicles would be extremely difficult to do.

How impressed are you by Windows in the car so far?

  • Martin

    Oh my days…

  • Platy

    I already have windows in my car.

    • Martin

      Fair play

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Do they crash often or for seemingly no reason take on a blue hue reminiscent to that of a ‘blue screen’?

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    The Marketing team behind this must have been really out of ideas to call this “Windows in the Car”. It must surely have been a case of “Bounce some ideas off me”, “I hear Apples implementation was previously called iOS in the car so how about we change the word iOS for Windows and call it a night…”

  • Jonathan

    Windows ON the car. Which I already have. So I’m good.

    • Jeffrey

      sooooo it’s like on the roof..? btw u don’t even have a car:P

      • Jonathan

        dang it I was hoping no one would remember the fact I’m too young. xD

        Besides, on doesn’t have to specifically mean on top. on the side, on the bottom. Kinda fits ’em all. =P

      • Jeffrey

        hahaha lol:P and yeah that’s true:/ but i still think it’s windows in the car:)

      • Jonathan

        If it was in, wouldn’t that be IN the car? so like, for example a glass dashboard or something? lol

      • Jeffrey

        well yeah lo, you see a display in the car in the picture right… also, if you are sitting in a car, you are in the car, not on the car… so is the display

      • Jonathan

        Hmmm.. I see.

      • Jeffrey


  • Vijay Panjwani

    Once again, Apple does something and everybody rushes to copy it! And then people complain apple has stopped innovating or apple is coping others or apple is doomed! Huh!

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      I beg to differ. There’s been entertainment systems in cars for years only very few have had integration with smartphones and for the most part they have had a woeful UI. The challenges companies face are basically coming up with a nice user interface that can be combined with that of a smartphone and I hate to say it but by using industry standard technology it sounds like Microsoft could be on to something. Whether or not it succeeds though probably depends on its ease of use and how much they try to milk companies pockets for in terms of licensing…

      • Vijay Panjwani

        Yeah! I agree with you, but its like when apple comes with something, everybody starts following the trend. Just like the fingerprint scanner. It was there before the iPhone 5s on the atrix, but apple did it right and suddenly other companies started to rush that idea on their phones like the htc one max or the gs5 both having the poor implications! Then comes the gold colour, it was there before, but apple did it right with the colour balance and see, every body is making a gold handset for their flagships!
        Its not like apple did something first, but its more like apple did that thing right and then everybody rushes to copy that blatently or to implement that feature in a poor manner.

      • grumpyfuzz

        “everybody”. that can be easily argued, but you were probably just exaggerating.

    • Franklin Richards

      Actually Windows have been part of the car ICE game long before this. Look up Blue&me, it’s not as advanced, doesn’t generally have a UI and only available on Fiat cars but it is something.

    • M Last

      only Apple has new ideas


    “Car Windows” would have been better. Then you could call and say “I have a cracked windshield” when you get a bsod

  • Framboogle

    Blue screen of death would be quite literal in Windows in the car.

  • It’s almost like a bad joke that if Apple had kept the iOS in the Car name this would be a total rip off naming wise. Aside from the smilar interface.

  • longterm

    They had some other names originally chosen, but decided not to use them; the front-runners were: a) Crap on my Dash; b) Blue Screen in my Car; c) AM Radio; d) Virus Magnet in my Car.

  • Jon20

    Maybe Apple’s CarPlay slogan should be: “CarPlay…Because we don’t crash, and neither should you.”

  • R3D

    Don’t forget the car accidents on highways caused by blue death. 🙂

    • Jonathan

      AGH you beat me to it. xD I was going to post a photo of this very think LOL

    • Never trust any technology for directions…

  • test_11

    Windows copied apple…
    Apple- first won
    Windows- failed

  • Hyr3m

    Imagine a car without windows… that’s just unthinkable ^^

  • Innes

    Am I the only one that laughed when the ‘Windows in the Car’ demo in the video crashed?! Could you imagine that happening if Tim Cook was showing off something new? Sure its at the development stage but why show it if its going to be crashing during the demo. How embarassing! Smells of desperation and Windows playing catchup again.

  • First impression; it’s so buggy and won’t be making driving any safer by constantly “crashing”…terrible marketing yet again Microsoft.

  • Beck Hoefling