Microsoft Announces Auto PC, PC Companion Powered by Windows CE 2.0

Microsoft Announces Auto PC, PC Companion Powered by Windows CE 2.0

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the Auto PC, the latest member of its PC Companion line of products powered by the Microsoft® Windows® CE operating system version 2.0, bringing the benefits of interactive speech technology, connectivity, information on demand and enhanced entertainment to the automobile. Microsoft plans to deliver the Auto PC software to OEMs in the first quarter of 1998.

Microsoft is pioneering the use of speech recognition in automobiles with the sophisticated but simple interactive speech-technology user interface, enabling the Auto PC to respond to oral commands and using speech synthesis to communicate information to drivers. Optimized for the requirements of the automotive market, the Auto PC with interactive speech technology allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

“Much as happened with the Windows graphical user interface on the desktop, we anticipate Microsoft’s pioneering use of interactive speech technology will become widely accepted as the primary way of interacting with automotive computing devices,” said Craig Mundie, senior vice president of the consumer platforms division at Microsoft.

The device, the size of a car stereo system, can be easily installed in the dashboard, providing drivers access to personal information and driving directions as well as wireless services such as e-mail, paging and traffic alerts, a digital audio system, an AM/FM radio and a CD player. PC Companion devices are designed to work together, so users can share information between their Auto PC and a Handheld PC or Palm PC.

The first worldwide wave of automobile manufacturers and suppliers, as well as aftermarket electronics vendors, supporting the Auto PC platform includes Alpine Japan, Clarion Corp. of America, Daewoo Telecom Ltd., Hyundai Electronics Industries Company Ltd., IAV GmbH, Infinity Systems Inc., JBL Inc., Magneti Marelli S.p.A., MD-Co., Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A., PSA Peugeot Citroen, Samsung Electronics Company Ltd., United Technologies Automotive Inc., Avio Corp. and Volkswagen AG.

“Microsoft’s open, expandable Auto PC platform will bring a new level of excitement and opportunity to the in-vehicle systems market,” said James Minarik, president, Clarion Sales Corp. “Clarion is bringing to market the first product in this category, the Clarion Auto PC, demonstrating our commitment to developing mobile multimedia products at the convergence of car audio and personal computing – allowing consumers to drive smarter and safer.”

“We know that the average user of the automobile spends about seven hours per week behind the wheel, and this is largely unproductive time,” said Brad Bradshaw, vice president, marketing, Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. “Since time is a luxury for our customers and we can’t give them more of it, we at Infiniti are exploring new technologies like the Auto PC that can simplify their lives.”

“At Avio, we’re committed to meeting the driver’s need for safe, affordable and valuable information, communication, entertainment and security features,” said Gary Vander Haagen, vice president and general manager, electronics systems division, Avio. “Our ability to do this is dependent on building the right hardware and software infrastructure. That’s why our development effort with Microsoft is key.”

“UT Automotive is a leader in designing and understanding vehicle operating systems, including multimedia, and is a natural to help introduce Windows CE to car manufacturers,” said Rich Chutorash, director of advanced technology/Auto PC at UT Automotive. “We believe extending Windows CE to vehicle operating systems can provide an open architecture that will allow expansion, upgrading and systems commonality. Ultimately, it will provide customers with more features and lower costs.”

The Auto PC platform is expandable and upgradeable. This version allows a variety of third-party add-ons and solutions such as enhanced navigation applications, wireless data applications, cellular phone integration, vehicle diagnostic applications and many others. Auto PCs from electronic aftermarket companies are expected to ship in the second quarter of 1998.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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