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Ford Officially Dumps Microsoft for BlackBerry

Once hailed as the future of in-vehicle communications and entertainment, a partnership between Ford and Microsoft has all but unraveled. Ford this week said it's replacing Microsoft Sync with BlackBerry's QNX software.

Ford launched its Sync 3 platform, which ushers in significant new features and will show up in 2016 vehicles sometime next year, the company announced yesterday. Though Ford didn't officially announce it was walking away from Microsoft Sync in favor of BlackBerry QNX, The Seattle Times reported in February that the automaker was on the verge of making the switch. Raj Nair, Ford's CTO of global product development, said in numerous reports yesterday that QNX is now the new platform. Some 7 million Ford vehicles are reportedly equipped with Microsoft Sync but the systems have continuously scored poorly in consumer satisfaction reports due to frequent malfunctions.

Swapping out Microsoft Sync for QNX would also result in cost savings, according to The Seattle Times, noting that it's also used in the in-vehicle navigation systems of Audis and BMWs. Apple and Google also have alliances with various car manufactures. While BlackBerry smartphones may be rapidly disappearing, QNX has gained significant ground in the in-vehicle systems market. While Microsoft Sync, based on Windows Embedded, is said to also run the vehicle entertainment systems of some BMW, Kia, Fiat and Nissan models, Ford and Microsoft announced with great fanfare in 2007 their plans roll out models with the entertainment system as an option.

Microsoft Sync was initially designed to link iPods and Zune music players to entertainment systems, debuting just at the dawn of the smartphone age. At the time, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates saw Microsoft Sync as another element of the company's "Windows Everywhere" effort.  As we all know, much as changed since then.

If Microsoft has new plans for Sync, the next logical time to announce them would be at next month's annual Detroit Auto Show.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/12/2014 at 11:28 AM


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