New Windows Automotive, CE Set for Launch

The new version of Microsoft's Windows Automotive platform will launch on March 26, with similar debuts following in Europe and Asia by the end of April. As first reported by Microsoft Watch, CEO Steve Ballmer will likely unveil the new system Automotive Executive Summit in Dearborn, Michigan.

Windows Automotive was developed as part of Microsoft's "Connected Car" strategy and will not actually power automobiles. Instead, Microsoft wants to bring Internet-based technologies such as entertainment and Web services directly into cars. Seven auto manufacturers are currently onboard to embed Windows Automotive in upcoming models.

Windows CE serves as the core of Windows Automotive and the operating system will be updated to release 4.2, code-named McKendric, in early April. CE 4.2 supports different data and voice profiles, along with a version of the .NET Compact Framework. Bluetooth support will also play a key role, allowing drivers to use cell phones hands-free, Redmond tells Microsoft Watch.

A beta version of McKendric was issued to developers last October, and Microsoft expects new Web services based on the platform. Along with Microsoft's own MapPoint .NET service, partners are creating applications to check traffic, gas prices, weather and other information pertinent to drivers.

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