It will stay agile, adapting to work on five key areas: predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and help building autonomous driving capabilities. In addition to Volvo's Cortana connection, Google Assistant will soon come to Daimler and Hyundai vehicles while Amazon Alexa will be integrated into Ford's cars.
After working for more than 15 years in automotive technology, the tech giant will attempt to accelerate its efforts with the launch of a new Connected Vehicle Platform, based on its Azure cloud platform, leveraging Microsoft services including the Cortana voice-based assistant. It has partnered with BMW to develop Azure-based technologies for in-car productivity services.
As CES 2017, Nissan played off a concept video demonstrating what Cortana could bring to its vehicles, showing features including calendar reminders, quick mapping, and even suggesting shortcuts.
We are rapidly getting to the point where cars are simply computers with wheels, and in a blog post Microsoft explained how they were helping automakers get there.
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"This is not an in-car operating system or a "finished product", Microsoft's EVP for business development Peggy Johnson writes in today's announcement.
BMW added that its "connected driving experience will also be enhanced by intelligent voice control", powered by a "personal digital assistant that customers are familiar with in other areas of their daily lives". Automakers then could use that data in powerful ways. The two companies were already working together on other projects before this, so it's maybe no surprise that Renault-Nissan is Microsoft's first partner.
This builds on Microsoft's commercial relationships with BMW, which involves Azure, and Volvo, which pertains to Skype.
Cortana assistant, the digital assistant, developed by Microsoft, may become part of this plan shortly. On the heels of a global, multi-year agreement announced in September 2016, Renault-Nissan Alliance announced during its CES keynote that the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform will power its next-generation, connected vehicles with advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, remote monitoring of auto features and more. "Instead, we want to help automakers create connected auto solutions that fit seamlessly with their brands, address their customers' unique needs, competitively differentiate their products and generate new and sustainable revenue streams". Cortana is one of these services for cars, as is Dynamics 365, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business.