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Microsoft chases satnav market

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Microsoft has announced a new iteration of Windows Embedded, this time targeted at satellite navigation hardware, although it sneaks in a sideshow capability to keep the Windows Vista connection alive.

Windows Embedded NavReady is apparently aimed at Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs) and includes Windows Live Search and MSN Direct to provide the usual navigation services, as well as Bluetooth and SideShow for manufacturers wanting to push the functionality a little further.

Current satellite navigation systems generally use an embedded OS with proprietary software on top to provide the UI and routing functionality. Some manufacturers have even been using Windows Embedded CE for years, but with their own layers on top. By providing the whole bundle Microsoft might be able to reduce the devices to commodity level, just as they have with desktop PCs.

Not that manufacturers will be unable to differentiate their offerings: NavReady supports Bluetooth, including the hands-free profile and AV Remote Control. So a NavReady device could easily control the in-car entertainment system and manage the mobile phone, as well as the more mundane business of supplying directions in a range of comedy voices.

If that's not enough then SideShow can provide additional functionality, as long as there's a Windows Vista PC nearby to do the leg work.

Licences for Windows Embedded are hugely volume dependent, but NavReady shouldn't cost device manufacturers more than a few dollars, especially as the real point is to get Live Search into cars in such a way that Google can't compete, at least until they announce Android-NavReady. ®

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