Ford Makes The BSOD A Model Option

from the change-drivers-while-driving dept

Just in case legislators needed more in-car distractions to crusade against, Microsoft and Ford are set to unveil plans for a new in-car communications system at January's Detroit auto show and at CES. Dubbed "Sync," the system will offer drivers a hands-free Bluetooth wireless headset and an in-vehicle operating system, letting users chat, check e-mail, or download music on the go. There's no word on what kind of connectivity this system will use to link users to the outside world -- and if it's using 3G services, whether you'll get to use your Ford hatchback as a Wi-Fi hotspot, given the restrictive nature of some companies' 3G access plans. The 103-year-old Ford Motor Company has plenty of problems right now, and it's not clear how offering the BSOD as an option is going to address the fact Toyota is still kicking their inefficient, unreliable butt. While services like this have been in higher-end cars for a while, it's not clear how popular these services will be with more economical drivers, since it's mobile communications functionality many people already have (and pay handsomely for) via smartphone. We've noted how many users can barely drive while operating their GPS systems -- so it will be interesting to see if they can drive while screwing around in the control panel to enable Cleartype.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 3:52pm

    what is really needed is a system that monitors and predicts activity and assists. for example, if it is monday at 8am, your car should know that you are driving to work, check your route, and alert you to congestion or accidents. why doesn't your car remind you the click & clack is on NPR while running your weekend errands?

    dumping the latest technology into autos without any thought to real-world uses is just a pointless game of oneupmanship that gets consumers nothing.

     

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  2.  
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    SimplyGimp, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 4:52pm

    Just what we need..

    More useless gadgets. While the rest of the world (Including the French) out-engineer us in every aspect of the automotive world, we try to fix the issue with BlueTooth!

    I say it loud and proud, DEATH TO THE AMERICAN AUTO COMPANIES. They make the most useless and unreliable vehicles on the face of the planet.

     

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  3.  
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    jd, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 4:54pm

    windows embedded

    it's apparent that karl is posting on the wrong forum. He should consider Slashdot. You want an unfriendly linux system or the artistic mac system running your cars IT?

    Go for it, good luck w/ support.

     

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  4.  
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    Geren, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    But wait, the Artistic Mac does run on an unfriendly linuxish system. Does that make it an unfriendly artist? Anyway, the car's going to run the old machine control program called OS9 (not MacOS9) with Windows running over that. Should be a real fun mess. Just what we need -- Geek Squad to reboot our cars for us!

     

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  5.  
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    Nick G, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:15pm

    Go ahead Ford, I'm more then willing to sell my tech support services to the local Mechanics when someones communication system on their Ford Taurus stops working.

     

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  6.  
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    Jason V, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:29pm

    Death to American car companies?

    I would suggest checking into how much the American car companies put into the US economy. It is a LOT. Sure, they have their problems, and the imports to contribute somewhat, but it all pales in comparison. So if you want to see the US economy in a huge slump, then go ahead and push for the death of US auto manufacturers, otherwise, push for the US companies to work harder and do much better.

     

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  7.  
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    DV Henkel-Wallace, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:32pm

    I think jd missed the point

    Linux or Mac (or VxWorks or RTEMS...) is just leading to the Bluetooth System of Death -- for driver, passenger, bystander and Ford Motors. (Though I agree the Cleartype remark is dumb).

    As Karl says, first Ford should concentrate on their core business: start making decent cars.

    This is, I think , a bearish sign on Ford though: ever notice how sinking companies try to yoke themselves to some other company? And Microsoft (no spring chicken itself) hasn't been that successful a company for most to yoke 'emselves to either in the past (think SGI, Unisys...).

     

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  8.  
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    Future MSME, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:41pm

    America is going to do ...

    ... what it does best, build cheaply and quickly to fill a coming need.

     

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  9.  
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    Douglas, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:44pm

    Since the 70s

    American car companies, IMO, have had since the 70s to improve their quality. That's when the gas shortage really drove people to imports with smaller engines, only for them to realize that on a whole, the cars were built much better than the American counterparts.

    Since the 70s, American car companies have turned a deaf ear to the Foreign market, treating it like a joke. While we were the only country with this outlook, the rest of the world went on to make better cars with better technology. We just sat here cranking out our "Detroit CrapMobiles".

    Now comes 2007. Many major American car companies are now starting to see the end of their road. With the stuff going on in the middle east and many people pushing to get off of crude oil, the Americans are left dazed and confused because we're still trying to catch up to the 70s. All the while, the rest of the world is working on their 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th generations of alternative fuel vehicles. We're always 10 steps behind. Why do you think we're the only nation to make something so hideous as a Hummer H2?

    So, for someone to claim that they wish the American Auto Industry would just go away, I can't say I blame them. I'd MUCH rather have the selection and availability of the foreign car market here, instead of the restricted selection we have now. I personally feel that wont happen until the American car companies die out or are bought out by the Foreign market. I prefer the latter of the 2.

     

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  10.  
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    PT, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 5:57pm

    Re: windows embedded

    A car OS isn't like a desktop OS where the user needs to be able to install an application and have readily available hardware drivers when he switches out his, what, engine managment unit?

    For closed systems such as a car OS, Windows development is not any cheaper than Linux development. In fact, I'm willing to bet its more expensive due to licensing issues. As for hardware supports a vast array of hardware and definitely has a large selection of cpu architectures to choose from: x86, Alpha, MIPS, ARM, Power, Sparc, ect. If anything, there is probably a lot more hardware choices out there for what to run Linux under than Windows, that is hardware that matters for a car, such as the underlying processor and chipsets. Anything else can have drivers written for it with specs obtained from the manufacturer.

     

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  11.  
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    innerdaemon, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 6:16pm

    MSFord

    Ford cannot compete with Toyota or Honda any longer - it's just not possible given Ford's (or GM's) brand image. They have no choice but to resort to this sort of weird sideshow to garner some token attention. Of course the problem is that they are aligning themselves with someone is inept at developing consumer technology so this partnership is doomed from the start.

     

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  12.  
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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Dec 29th, 2006 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Death to American car companies?

    I would bet the UAW is at least as much at fault as the car companies themselves. After all, the unions have largely superceded their origins as a means of protecting the rights of workers and become, along with the Federal government, nothing but another giant leech sucking the blood of American productivity.

     

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  13.  
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    Jeeper8788, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 6:42pm

    utoh

    imagine when someone comes up with a virus for cars....

     

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  14.  
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    RichmondJim, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 6:51pm

    Re: utoh

    Imagine... virus author creates a virus that uploads itself into the diagnostic computer at the local auto repair shop where it lies dormant for a random period of time before it starts infecting every car that is connected to that diagnostic computer.

     

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  15.  
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    JLO, Dec 29th, 2006 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re: utoh

    That's Wi-Fright...to you and me.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2006 @ 1:30am

    Re: Just what we need..

    Just what we need... another socialist like you?

    GM/Ford make these things, like the H2, and they don't sit on some lot for 9 months or a year, they sell. They sell because consumers want to buy it. I shall add that Toyota and Honda are essentially JUST as 'American' in their operations as any of the 'domestics', as many of their vehicles are designed here and assembled here (or in Mexico or Canada), right along side GM and Ford. The only difference is in quality, efficiency, and coolness, all three of which are hard to tackle, especially when GM/Ford are strapped with legacy costs that Toyota and Honda don't yet have to worry about.

    Regarding a comment like the French out-engineering us... I'm not sure what you mean there. American's don't want little match-box toy cars like Europeans. They have their fuel efficiency, we have our bulk, interior space, utility, and ego. Meanwhile, we can hit their cars head on in our F150s and wonder if we ran over a rock, meanwhile, the French vehicles occupants would be roadkill. Again, if American consumers wanted match-box cars, Mini Cooper's would be selling like Camry's or Accords or even Civics.

    But of course, there's no telling you that. Much better instead, apparently, to remove consumer choice and give some government mandate to GM/Ford to increase efficiency and quality and scale down mass and vastly reduce production of hot-selling high-profit SUVs, right?

    Anyway, regardless of the auto world, you'd be wise to avoid qouting France as a fine example of anything even vaguely related to economic matters. ;) If you want to say they have nice wine or nice food or a nice sense of fashion or some such thing, sure, but in an economic sense, they're an utter train wreck with no signs of improvement.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Japanese, Dec 30th, 2006 @ 8:00am

    I always buy

    Three books on the American auto industry that are both enlightening and good reads are:

    On a Clear Day you can see GM, by John Z De Lorean

    Gearhead, I have two copies of this book, and can't find either or any info about it on the net. It's a book by an assembly line worker at the Flint bus and truck plant.

    Jump start : Japan comes to the heartland, by David Gelsanliter

    The first book explains how management got so messed up. The second explains how that translates to poor quality on the assembly line. The third explains how the Japanese are light years ahead of us, and how they can come to the US, build plants a few hundred miles from Motor City, and churn out top quality with incredible efficiency.

    You've got the story all wrong on Ford, their build quality is amazing. I had a 1986 Taurus that was engineered to perfection. Unfortunately it was engineered to break, and they did exceeding well in that aspect. Between 60K and 66K almost every major system on the car failed and I did a post postmortem on each one. The only failure due to poor quality was in the transmission, where they didn't trim the flash from the valves. The rest were planned, ie. using an aluminum gear between two harder metals.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Japanese, Dec 30th, 2006 @ 8:08am

    Re: I always

    I forgot why I wanted to comment on this. The most incredible feature the '86 Taurus had incorporated into it's little computer brain was "Limp In" mode. When the computer detected any trivial problem that would normally light "Check Engine" on a sanely designed car, the Taurus would instead enter "Limp In" mode. You could still drive the car, but only at about ten MPH so you could "Limp In" to have it serviced. If you shut off the ignition and restarted the car you could drive at normal speed for about two to ten minutes. I became skilled at doing this while driving. The service manager told me this was a convenience for the owner of the vehicle, so they wouldn't have to pay for a tow truck, and would thus have more money available to pay for the repair.

     

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  19.  
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    Japanese, Dec 30th, 2006 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: I always

    Aw hell, this is really brilliant. So you've got this totally aware car that can communicate it's location and download info. Let's say you're driving around and you pass a Ford dealership. Maybe they're having a slow day in the service dept. I know that's not likely, but just go along. The car communicates its proximity to the dealer to the network, Ford charges the dealer a fee to remotely create a malfunction in the vehicle, download directions to the dealership to the navigation system, and even display a diagnostic message so when you "Limp In" you can say with authority "I think it's the Johnson rod." The service manager then agrees, "Johnson rod failures are very common, good thing you came in right away!" "While you're waiting for the repair, why not test drive our latest model?"

    At least, that's how I would rig it.

     

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  20.  
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    Brandon Rusnak, Dec 30th, 2006 @ 11:39am

    Safety Mechanism Needed...

    I think that if they do put in an In-Car OS it will need some sort of safety mechanism, such as if it detects no weight on the passenger seat and the car is in drive the internet browser will not open.

    The last thing we need is someone going 60 down the expressway while trying to watch the latest dance video on Youtube as well as checking email.

    Also, Ford will have to have the Automobile equivilent to CTRL-ALT-DEL...

    Hand on Steering Wheel, Hand on Hood, Foot on Tire

    BMR

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Mike, Dec 31st, 2006 @ 1:37am

    What's the problem here?

    I don't understand the arrogant nature of some of the comments I am reading here and other places about Microsoft and Ford.

    The Acura and Prius I believe already have Microsoft powered computer systems installed. So why the complaints about viruses and system crashes in a Ford product?

    The thing to understand is that the OS will not be the Windows you use on your desktop or laptop. The closest current OS that it might be cousins to is Windows CE, which is embedded on a chip and might fit the auto industries needs.

    Did you know that many of the cell phones you use are running a Microsoft OS? How about automated manufaturing processes? Microsoft is there too.

    There is a lot more to Microsoft than Windows.

    With Windows much of the problem is either the hardware maker, software and/or driver author, or the end users fault.

    With embedded systems it is a closed system where none of the Windows problems exist.

     

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  22.  
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    Brad, Dec 31st, 2006 @ 3:50am

    Mike gets it...

    I don't think anyone but the final comment (above this) actually GETS what an embedded system is.

    Dipshits: They're not talking about putting XP on your car. You're as dumb as you sound if that's actually what you think.

    MS has been pushing a concept called "Car.Net" for about the past decade, arguing that people will want computer functionality in their car. They're right.

    The idea behind the Ford/MS merge is to give you free internet in your car. Imagine if everyone relayed information from one vehicle to another, especially traffic information. My cellphone-based GPS (LiveSearch - free from MS btw) has live traffic data, and re-routes around slow areas and accidents. Don't you think that would be useful?

    Pull your heads out of your Linux/Apple-loving asses and realize that the reason MS is doing this is because it's a valuable, untapped market. Not to put Windows in your car.

    BTW: CE for Embedded devices runs about $3/license. It isn't exactly cost-prohibitive. And it comes with real support, not Linux community support.

     

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  23.  
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    Ken, Dec 31st, 2006 @ 10:20am

    RE: Mike gets it...

    All hail Brad and Mike! You guys really made my day with your comments. The whole time I was reading this page, I was hoping somebody with actual IT knowledge would comment.

    I tend to dislike Windows in more ways than one. That doesn't mean I dislike Microsoft. There is a reason they are a multi-bilion dollar company (not just because they bought out some of the "leading ladies" companies). I don't think Microsoft is the know-all-be-all company that will save us from technological plight, but I do think they have the potential. If everyone would just read and follow up on what gets published about technology, we would be so much better off.

    Karl wrote this article from a user's perspective. I don't know if you did it on purpose, but you really did bring out the people who really know how to better explain why Microsoft and Ford Motors would team up.

    Again, thanks Brad and Mike.

     

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  24.  
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    keith, Dec 31st, 2006 @ 10:56am

    Re: Just what we need..

    why don't you load your @55 up and move to damn france...quit bitchin' loser

     

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  25.  
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    jw, Dec 31st, 2006 @ 1:38pm

    Stupidity++

    Drivers don't need more distractions. This is frightening to read. As it is, I'm now more afraid to drive on the highways than I am to fly (and I really dislike flying!).

    If only efficiency and maintenance improving features would sell as well as turning a car into a Nintendo.

     

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  26.  
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    justdave, Jan 1st, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Just what we need..

    I love Americans. Have you had a look at your own economy lately? I take it you realise that your cash has devalued by a fairly impressive 35% in the last few years, your trade deficit is huger than huge, and (this is the best bit), your budget deficit is in the trillions. Trillions! Europe won't let you borrow any money any more, and your government is borrowing big time from central asian banks just to cover the interest payments on your unthinkably large loans. Oh, that and your selling state assets to China like they own the place (which isn't too far from the truth). The depths of the self delusion in the US never ever ceases to amaze me.

     

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  27.  
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    AltoonaPillarRock, Jan 1st, 2007 @ 8:40am

    Great posting. I think you are right on but how about defining your abbreviations (BSOD) for those of us who not up to speed. Thanks.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Chris Maresca, Jan 1st, 2007 @ 11:46am

    Only one post makes sense in all these rants...

    ... and that's Brads. Everyone here who thinks that your Ford will be running Windows is plain wrong. If you've ever been in an Acura or BMW, then you've used MS's car operating system. And they are not the only manufacturers to use it, check here for a short list.

    The other choices are fully closed OSes from people like Siemens and Bosch, as Linux is not yet packaged for this sort of environment. As much as I'd love to see more manufacturers use more open source, it's really not yet happening.

    Chris.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2007 @ 8:33pm

    I guess looking to the future isn't a good idea? This sort of thing will be comon in cars in the very near future. If Toyota did something like this, it would be "brilliant"...

     

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  30.  
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    carindustrymonkey, Jan 6th, 2007 @ 3:13am

    Re: If Toyota did it, it would be brilliant!

    Sure you're being sarcastic about the public perception.... Yeah, but that's the point isn't it? If Toyota do it, we EXPECT it to at least be worth looking at. If Ford/GM does it, we EXPECT it to be a crap gimmick. The consumer/shareholder/worker confidence in the US OEMs is low even in the US, and I doubt they will be able to change that perception without BEING SEEN TO BE either directly bought out/merged/or at least heavily influenced, by foreign outsiders. The sooner they face up and do just that, the better for the US jobs which depend on them.

     

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  31.  
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    jim m, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Death to American car companies?

    like it or not GM and Ford represent the USA. Our country is in the same spot in areas or health care, market share, innovation etc.

    One by one we saw industries move offshore -clothing, electronics....
    China and India is doing to us what we did to Europe 120 years ago.

    It's not likely they will find the solutions they need in time. Most problems come are caused by other problems. Health care costs related to courts approving too high compensations.

    Trying to go in a bio-fuel direction really shows desperation. Who is going to want to buy a bio-fuel car while hybrids are available?
    JJM

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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