June 17, 2008

Microsoft Enters the GPS Software Space - NavReady

After years of GPS Makers using Windows CE as a platform to build sometimes mediocre user interfaces at best, Microsoft decided to make a GPS platform that works well with advanced features to integrate into the connected lifestyle; enter Microsoft NavReady.

The software platform will be available later this year and will allow GPS makers to have their own hardware and a well made software platform together that will incorporate some potentially interesting features like MSN Live search, Bluetooth connections, MSN Direct integration for the use of traffic and gas prices, and SideShow. SideShow is a way for the GPS to act as a second screen for a handheld Windows device that will allow you to display information as well as exchange it.

So What?
First, you can insert the standard Microsoft taking over the world joke here, then another Apple Guy vs. PC Guy Joke before we continue.... But seriously, no doubt this will change how the market looks in a year or so, with new units coming to the market faster, and from more makers by removing a big barrier to entry and if Microsoft does their job well, making a whole bunch of manufacturers who previously couldn't program a user interface have access to a decent market.

Does this make Garmin and TomTom want to use NavReady? Probably not, but what if everyone else does? Mio is already signed on, making for the third operating system in a year (iGo, then recently their NavMan based OS on the Mio Moov Series, and now MS NavReady). What if Magellan dumps its aging OS? Will they merely fade into the pack of NavReady powered GPS units or become more competitive with technologies coming to the market at a faster pace?

I think the net effect if this NavReady OS is reasonable is that the GPS market becomes a lot more competitive. This will allow almost any hardware maker to launch a GPS at rock bottom prices, while the titans battle to stay one step ahead of the rolling pack. Should get interesting.

Full Press Release Below

Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Windows Embedded NavReady 2009, Microsoft's first embedded operating system designed specifically for OEMs building handheld portable navigation devices (PNDs). Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 delivers innovative technologies to help developers and OEMs quickly bring to market smart, connected, service-oriented PNDs that easily connect to online services, mobile phones using Bluetooth, Windows-based PCs and the Internet. Based on Windows Embedded CE, Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 builds upon a decade of experience and success that the Windows Embedded Business has achieved by helping developers and OEMs simplify the development, user experience and maintenance of their PND designs.

"As demand for personal navigation devices continues to increase, and existing owners look to upgrade from their original devices, original equipment manufacturers must continue to innovate and enhance their products with features that will attract a variety of users," said Chris Jones, Canalys vice president and principal analyst. "Personal navigation solutions will increasingly become connected, which will open up new opportunities to add value through the delivery of dynamic information and location-based services. But this is a highly competitive market and it is important that businesses like Windows Embedded help OEMs and others bring these rich devices to market quickly and efficiently."

Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 Key Features

This release also provides a number of benefits that can help developers and OEMs quickly bring to market new scenarios in which the PND connects to other devices and online services. Features include the following:

  • Live Search delivers OEMs and partners key elements enabling Internet-based Live Search on devices to find up-to-date points of interest similar to the ones provided by the Live Search Maps service.

  • Bluetooth technologies enable OEMs to provide rich, hands-free scenarios to users 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. 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.

  • MSN Direct enables OEMs to incorporate MSN Direct technologies. These technologies can reduce users' commute time while enhancing the travel experience by providing up-to-date information such as traffic alerts and fuel prices.
  • Windows SideShow functionality helps enable the PND as a secondary display screen for many Windows Vista-based PCs*, allowing Windows SideShow gadgets to interact and exchange information with the PND and providing a rich user experience at home or work.

    "As a leading designer and manufacturer of portable navigation devices we have relied on Windows Embedded CE as a proven real-time operating system for our Mio product line," said Samuel Wang, president of Mio Technology Corp. "With the launch of Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 and the introduction of features including Live Search, MSN Direct and Bluetooth capabilities, we are looking forward to bringing our next-generation PNDs to market with a richer end-user experience and in a reduced timeframe."

    "Windows Embedded powers many of the portable navigation devices in the marketplace," said Kevin Dallas, general manager of the Windows Embedded Business at Microsoft. "Our commitment to this segment has always been about providing the platform and tools that give our OEM partners the most innovative technologies while reducing the complexity of development. We firmly believe the release of Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 helps us fulfill this promise by taking the PND experience to the next level. Adopting Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 today will allow device-makers and solution providers to focus on innovation while bringing smart, connected, service-oriented portable navigation devices to market in time for the 2008 holiday retail season and beyond."

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    Posted by Scott Martin at June 17, 2008 6:26 AM
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