Sync is an onboard computer system
designed to seamlessly connect the automobile, the driver
and the driver's electronic devices.
"There is a transition point for most people
between the office and the home,
and for most people, that is the car."
BILL GATES IS WATCHING YOU!
Microsoft Corp.'s Chairman Bill Gates is unveiling products he hopes
will encourage more widespread adoption of the digital or "connected" home,
where multiple devices can access and share multimedia content
stored on a PC or a central server hub.
How the two Bills got in Sync
by Bryce Hoffman, Detroit News, Jan 8, 2007
DEARBORN -- When Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. unveiled Sync in Detroit and Las Vegas Sunday, there were sighs of relief under all the applause. After all, there was almost nothing to unveil. With three weeks left before Sync's formal announcement at the North American International Auto Show and the Consumer Electronics Show, there was still no sign of a working prototype of the technology that links cars with cell phones and personal music players. Both companies were readying their brave faces for productless press conferences. But when Bill Gates is personally overseeing a project, the pieces have a way of falling into place.
"Officially, I am the executive sponsor for all of Microsoft's work with Ford, which means I help determine partnership ideas and ultimately approve any projects either company proposes," Microsoft's chairman told The Detroit News in an e-mail exchange Saturday. That this project has come together so quickly is a testament to the support Sync has from the highest levels of both companies. Think of it as the tale of two Bills.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. has enjoyed a close working relationship with Gates, a man whose very name is synonymous with computer technology. "Bill Ford Jr. is someone I respect as having a vision for how technology can improve the car experience overall," Gates said.
Both Ford and Microsoft have long sought a project worthy of their iconic names. For more than three years, senior representatives from both companies have met quarterly to discuss the automaker's internal information technology projects, as well as emerging trends in automotive and computer technology. The sessions rotate between Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., and Ford's headquarters in Dearborn. Some are attended by Bill Gates or Bill Ford. Though these meetings have spawned intriguing ideas, Sync is the first actual production product to come out of these sessions.
Sync is an onboard computer system designed to seamlessly connect the automobile, the driver and the driver's electronic devices. It gives the driver almost complete hands-free control of devices like cellular telephones and MP3 music players. Powered by Windows CE, Sync allows motorists to make calls, listen to text messages and cue up songs without their hands ever leaving the steering wheel. Work on Sync began when both companies realized they were seeking a common solution to two very different problems.
Ford wanted to develop its own technology to counter the OnStar system already being offered by rival General Motors Corp. Microsoft was eager to establish a beachhead in the automotive space as part of its broader campaign to drive its products into every facet of consumer's lives. Microsoft has long wanted to crack the automotive market, according to Martin Thall, who heads the company's automotive division, but not for the obvious reasons. "The automotive opportunity is not a traditional Microsoft-level opportunity," Thall said. "(But) there is a transition point for most people between the office and the home, and for most people, that is the car." Making sure its products work better in their owners' cars than products from other manufacturers would give Microsoft a competitive edge. And the only way to guarantee that they do is to control the underlying technology that brings them together. "We feel that's a strategic advantage," Thall said.
In 2003, Microsoft began developing the technology and looking for partners in each of the major automobile markets to put it on the road, partnering with Fiat SpA to create Blue & Me -- a system similar to Sync that debuted at last year's Geneva motor show. Next came North America. Thall said GM was the logical choice because of its size, but Microsoft quickly realized that GM was committed to its own OnStar technology. So, Microsoft approached Ford. In April of 2005, Bill Gates traveled to Dearborn to present a $1 million donation to The Henry Ford Museum. After the formal ceremony, he and Bill Ford met to discuss ways their two companies might be able to collaborate on something like Sync. When the representatives from Ford and Microsoft held their next digital lifestyle council, Sync was on the agenda.
Talks on the project began in the summer of 2005. By November, both companies were on the same page and formal contract negotiations began in December of that year, when a delegation from Dearborn led by Ford product development chief Derrick Kuzak and Ford board member Robert Rubin, who has since resigned, traveled to Redmond to meet with Gates and Thall. "We spent a solid day brainstorming on how we would do this," Thall said, adding that Ford outlined its own vision for how the technology could be incorporated into its cars and trucks. "Both companies left that meeting very committed to moving forward with this project." In April of 2006, a final contract was signed by the two companies and Continental Corp., which would supply the hardware. It called for the first production units to be delivered just a year later.
Work on Sync began before the contract was even signed. In January, 80 of the key Ford employees responsible for the project gathered for a five-day meeting at Ford's Conference and Event Center in Dearborn. Mark Fields, president of Ford's Americas group, was on hand to underscore that sense of urgency. He told employees that the hopes of the company were riding on this project. "The original roll-out of the project extended two or three years. We challenged the team to compress that," Fields told The News in an interview Friday. "We said, 'The world's changing fast, and this is a competitive advantage for us. How do we get it across our vehicle lineup as soon as possible?' They delivered."
For its part, Microsoft devoted 90 percent of its automotive division's resources to the project, and Bill Gates personally guaranteed delivery by the target date. "Every time we go out there, he wants to see us, and meet with us on this and get a status update," VanDagens said. "He wants to see this succeed. Both companies have gone through the normal posturing, and we've had negotiation stops and starts. But we'll say, 'Bill Ford really wants to see this happen.' And they'll say, 'Bill Gates really wants to see this happen.' And, with that kind of support, the teams tend to quickly work out these issues. It's been a tremendous catalyst."
Yet, even with this sort of high-level support in both companies, it has been a real challenge to keep Sync on its accelerated development track. Ford's system was supposed to use the same processors as the already proven Fiat system. By May, however, it had become clear that this hardware was not powerful enough to run Sync, particularly its advanced voice-controlled interface. Four weeks later, engineers had created a new unit with faster, more powerful chips. But on Dec. 21, working prototypes finally arrived from Redmond. It was not fully functional, but it was close enough to wow the journalists assembled in Detroit and Las Vegas. "Microsoft is America's technology leader, and Ford is working hard to be America's car company," Bill Ford told The News Sunday. "There's a shared sense of opportunity between the two companies because we know our technology is going to change people's lives for the better."
Gates expands Microsoft's digital home plan
Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News, Jan 8, 2007
Microsoft Corp.'s Chairman Bill Gates is kicking off the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Sunday by unveiling products Microsoft hopes will encourage more widespread adoption of the digital or "connected" home. Microsoft has been promoting the idea of a connected home, where multiple devices can access and share multimedia content stored on a PC or a central server hub, for some time, but so far only the most savvy or wealthy technology enthusiasts have realized even a piece of that vision. But Gates and Robbie Bach, the president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, who also is scheduled to appear Sunday, aim to show how Microsoft can help more people get access to the technology.
Gates is announcing that service providers such as AT & T Corp. that offer IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) using Microsoft's software will begin offering this year the Xbox 360 console in lieu of a set-top box. Service providers still will give users the option of the typical set-top box for IPTV or an Xbox 360, said Microsoft spokesman Eric Hollreiser. Still, the announcement sets up a scenario where a home user can watch television and surf the Internet through their Xbox 360 console, which also is an IP-connected device. The move shows Microsoft upping the ante to provide not just software, but also hardware for the digital home, which could eventually put it in competition with its own hardware partners.
As expected, Windows Vista, which will have its widespread consumer release on Jan. 30, is also a major focus of Gates' speech. He is expected to unveil new deals that will deliver more media content through Vista's Media Center capabilities. Windows Media Center, which used to be its own OS but is now part of Vista, allows users to serve up content stored on their PC on televisions, or use their PC or another device to set content for their TVs. Deals with NASCAR, Fox Sports, Nickelodeon, Showtime and Bongo will deliver specialized content through Windows Media Center. All of the content except Bongo's will be free; users will have to pay a subscription for Bongo content. Microsoft also will allow users to submit video content they have created to Media center by integrating it with Soapbox, Microsoft's YouTube-like user-generated video upload service.
The debut of Windows Home Server, a product Microsoft has mentioned before under the code-name "Quattro," is also aimed at helping consumers establish a more connected home. Windows Home Server will not be sold directly to consumers, but will be used by OEMs such as Hewlett-Packard Co. as the basis for new hardware that consumers can put in their homes to connect their Windows Vista computers, Hollreiser said. Users with a broadband connection and more than one computer or device that has an Internet connection can access data stored on Windows Home Server. It also will provide data security and automatically back up data every night. Windows Home Server is aimed at providing a centralized server hub for multimedia files in the digital home, Hollreiser said. It will come in both Windows Vista and Windows XP versions, and pricing and specifications will vary according to the manufacturer. The first hardware using Windows Home Server software should be available sometime this year.
Gates is also showing off some new hardware from Microsoft partners that use new Vista features. HP's TouchSmart PC, for instance, will take advantage of touchscreen capabilities in Vista, while the Toshiba Portege R400 laptop will include a display screen on the top of the laptop that uses Vista's Sideshow technology to show users content such as their Outlook schedule without having to open or turn on their PC. Gates also will show off a new ultramobile PC from Medion, as well as a new Vaio by Sony Corp. optimized for Media Center.
Gates Wants Connected Cars & Homes, Detroit News, Jan 2007
GATES PLANTING STERILE SEEDS
Gates says big changes in store for Internet in next decade ($280 million to build a research and development center in China's capital Beijing, and will double the number of its full-time research staff in China to 3,000 in three to five years). AP/Breibart, May 6, 2008
FORD-LINDBERGH-ORWELL-HITLER (reader was taken aback by putting Lindbergh, Ford and Orwell together in the same sentence
Reader says my article about Ford, Lindbergh, Orwell & Hitler is ignorant, bigoted & anti-Semitic
Bill Gates hails 'digital decade'. BBC, Jan 8, 2007
In a speech with few concrete announcements, Mr Gates outlined how his firm's latest operating system Vista would be the tool to connect people. "People want to do things with their content across multiple platforms," he said. He said the hardware and content had been put in place "and the key thing missing is the connections"....Microsoft's work in developing IPTV (internet protocol TV), which allows programmes to be delivered live or on demand over an internet connection, would soon come to Xbox 360 games consoles....Mr Gates also confirmed that next year would see his last keynote speech at CES as he steps down as head of Microsoft. He said he had offered to come back the following year but that he might "talk more about infectious diseases than software", referring to his philanthropic work.
Dark cloud over Gates good works ("Gates mistakes"; "healing & stealing"). LATimes, Jan 7, 2007
The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe. Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats....
Toyota lending Nanny State a hand (sensors in steering wheel, cameras check your pupils). NationalPost, Jan 8, 2007. Go to NANNY STATE IN DRIVER'S SEAT
'Xbox is a PC' says Bill Gates (a strategy to get into living room). CVG, Jan 8, 2007. Go to BILL GATES BEHIND TELESCREEN
1.Winston's Diary and 2.Big Brother and 3.Surveillance and 20.Thought Police
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