Microsoft Auto 4.0 offers head unit functionality with a standard interface for broadcast radio and support for CD playback and ripping.
Microsoft claims this allows developers to create integrated multifunction systems with reduced complexity, lower cost and faster time to market.
Microsoft Auto 4.0 also expands its hardware support from ARM- and SH-based processors to include support for Intel processors, including the newest options for the Intel Atom Z5xx series chips.
Netbook cars just around the corner?
"The latest Atom processor is ideally suited for in-vehicle infotainment platforms with its high-performance, low-power characteristics and support for industrial temperature requirements," said Staci Palmer, director, In-Vehicle Infotainment at Intel.
At CeBIT, Microsoft will also showcase current Microsoft Auto applications, including sat navs from EB that can recognise complex spoken instructions and Live Search for GPS units.
A new internet radio application from Continental AG uses the Microsoft Auto-based Multi Media Platform (MMP), while Magneti Marelli will unveil an automotive-grade in-dash computer with internet connectivity, integrated navigation and wireless connectivity for external devices.
"The automotive industry is at an inflection point, where software plus services will redefine the future of the in-vehicle experience, and innovation is the new currency," said Tom Phillips, general manager of the Microsoft Automotive Business Unit.
See how we got through the whole story without speculating on how often Microsoft cars might crash?
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Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.