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Microsoft: Increasing Its Automotive Presence

Although it has been known as the "T-Box,*" according to Mark Spain, senior director, Microsoft’s Automotive Business Unit, that’s simply been the internal name of this system.

Although it has been known as the "T-Box,*" according to Mark Spain, senior director, Microsoft’s Automotive Business Unit, that’s simply been the internal name of this system. Think of it in the context of the way that everyone used to refer to the Chrysler "LH" cars (which happened so frequently that the company actually designated a model the "LHS"). And while some people might have thought that "T-Box" was in some ways analogous to the "X-Box" gaming system, what’s really different here is that whereas there is a Microsoft-delivered physical hardware for the game, with regard to T-Box—now officially known as "Windows Mobile for Automotive"—it is a software platform, although there is a hardware reference design associated with it.

An initial deployment will be deployed by Fiat. Microsoft’s Automotive Business Unit is working with Samsung Electronics, ScanSoft, Siemens, SiRF Technology, Xilinix, and Magneti Marelli on developing the hardware and software for a low-cost telematics system for the Italian vehicle manufacturer.

Kyle L. Solomon, Automotive Industry manager, Global Automotive, Microsoft, says that the Redmond-based company is undertaking an initiative, "Peak Performance," which has implications for companies going forward the next three to five years. Working from the Microsoft platform that is so pervasive throughout organizations, the Peak Performance program has four aspects, which Solomon describes as "pillars":

  • Operational performance (collecting plant floor information, for example, and using it to improve operations by sharing it with others via SharePoint Portal Server 2003)
  • Supply chain performance (achieving better visibility throughout the supply chain and attaining real-time information)
  • Customer sales and marketing performance (connecting manufacturers, dealers and customers in a seamless manner)

Product development performance (providing the means for global, cross-functional collaboration)
Essentially think of the Microsoft array of products—everything from Office 2003 to SQL Server 2000—as being a common foundation that other companies, such as PLM vendors including UGS (www.ugs.com) or Dassault (www.3ds.com) take into account for customer advantage. Other firms, including CAD and PLM vendor CoCreate (www.cocreate.com) and wireless location and communications provider WhereNet (www.wherenet.com) have signed on to the Peak Performance Initiative. (In all, there are 25 companies.**)—GSV

*See Automotive Design & Production, March, 2004 (www.autofieldguide.com/articles/030403.html) **In addition to those mentioned: Accenture (www.accenture.com); Actify (www.actify.com); Activeplant (www.activeplant.com); Active Web Services (www.activewebservices.com); AIM Computer Solutions (www.aim.com); Avanade (www.avanade.com); Capgemini (www.capgemini.com); eBots (www.ebotsinc.com); EDS (www.eds.com); GE Fanuc Automation (www.gefanuc.com); Genzlinger Associates (www.genzlinger.com); HP (www.hp.com); ICONICS (www.iconics.com); Immedient (www.immedient.com); Infosys Technologies (www.infosys.com); JAAS Systems (www.jaas.net); Microvision (www.microvision.com); Orlando Software Group (www.ogsi.com); Powerway (www.powerwayinc.com); PTC (www.ptc.com); Reynolds & Reynolds (www.reyrey.com); Siebel Systems (www.siebel.com); vSync (www.vsync.com)