Microsoft customizes Windows CE for PNDs

Mio: Win CE on board
Mio: Win CE on board
Many Personal navigation devices (PNDs).are using Windows CE as an operating system, but so far this platform was not particularly customized for the particular needs of a navigation devices. To answer manufacturers’ needs, Microsoft yesterday announced the availability of Windows Embedded NavReady 2009, its first embedded operating system designed specifically for OEMs building handheld portable navigation devices.

One of the highlights of NavReady 2009 is Bluetooth. Microsoft has integrated this technology to enable OEMs to provide hands-free scenarios and connectivity with the following profiles: Hands Free, Pairing Service, Phone Book Access, Advanced Audio Distribution, Audio and Video Remote Control, Dial Up Networking and Bluetooth Connection Manager. As a result, users will be able to use their PND device as a hands-free device to make phone calls or data connections when the device is paired with a compatible phone enabled with Bluetooth.

Another, technology, “Desktop-pass-through”, allows applications on the device to establish desktop-pass-through connections to online services and the internet when the device is connected to a Windows-Based PC that has ActiveSync/WMDC installed and internet connection.

LiveSearch and MSN Direct
Microsoft also has integrated support for two of its own services LiveSearch and MSN Direct. Live Search for Devices (LS4D), enables OEM to build search experiences into a navigation application that provides users with up-to-date, relevant, location-aware Points of Interest (POIs) from the White Pages (residential) or Yellow Pages (commercial) online phone books.

MSN Direct uses the Microsoft DirectBand wireless datacasting network (a one way data pipe using a FM radio sub-carrier) to deliver up-to-date information, such as traffic, fuel price, weather, etc, to navigation devices in the United States.

Everybody except the leaders
Many PND manufacturers are using Windows CE, however, the two leaders on this market, TomTom and Garmin, are using Linux or a proprietary operating system. Their volumes of sales make it interesting enough to develop and maintain their own operating systems. As a consequence the concentration of this market into the hands of these two leaders (at least in Western Europe and the United States) is shrinking the addressable market for Microsoft.

Tuesday, June 17th 2008

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