Microsoft is no stranger when it comes to in-car entertainment. A number of companies including BMW, Fiat, Ford, Kia and Nissan have all used modified versions of Windows to power their entertainment systems in the past. But Microsoft has also been focusing on their own vision of what in-car entertainment should look like, recently sharing that vision during their Build conference.
The concept, which looks a bit like Apple’s CarPlay, is currently being tested in real cars. It basically takes what is shown on a Windows device like a smartphone and displays it on the vehicle’s dash / console screen complete with touch controls and a car-friendly interface.
To accomplish this task, Microsoft is using a connectivity standard called Mirrorlink. It’s already in use by Nokia’s Symbian handsets and Sony’s Xperia Z but will likely gain a wider reach in the future as more infotainment systems adopt it. Citroen, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen as well as aftermarket stereo providers Alpine and Pioneer are all working to bring Mirrorlink technology to their respective products.
The prototype user interface looks like a slimmed down version of Windows 8 complete with an app marketplace. Touch will be a big part of the interaction as users will swipe between tiles to control things like the radio, access maps and more.
During a public demo, Microsoft’s Steve Teixeira outlined how developers will be able to build apps specifically for in-car use. Unfortunately he stopped short of announcing when the platform might show up in new cars or whether or not any automakers have shown interest in adopting it.