back to article Hyundai and Kia's latest pitch to US drivers - Windows

Microsoft has signed deals with Hyundai and Kia to supply voice recognition kit for cars sold in the USA, just as soon as its exclusive deal with Ford runs out in November. The system is called Sync, and uses an ARM-based system running Windows Mobile for Automotive with voice recognition provided by Nuance. It allows drivers …


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  1. Michael Davis

    You're kidding, right?

    I'd sooner walk than have MS software in my car.

  2. red floyd
    Thumb Down

    Added to my list

    I have owned several Ford autos, but will not buy another as my next car, since their ad campaigns push Microsoft ("Now with Sync... by Microsoft").

    Looks like I won't be buying a Hyundai or a Kia either

  3. Simon Riley


    We'll fix your brakes the next Patch Tuesday!

    No more Fords for me, then.

  4. Hywel Thomas

    Windows isn't the problem…

    … it's the drivers that are causing all the crashes.

  5. Ash

    Dear Ford and Kia,



  6. Nick
    Paris Hilton

    Blue Ford/Hyundai/Kia of death?

    Have the marketing people at the named companies considered the ramifications? I was considering getting a Hyundai SantaFe, but I'll chose some other manufacturer.

    Paris, since she is driving a Mercedes :-)

  7. Anonymous Coward

    re: You're kidding, right?

    Now I wonder what Red Floyd thinks about the aircraft flying above running versions of Windows

  8. Steven Raith


    You beat me to it - brings a whole new meaning to the term 'car crash'.

    Lets hope they don't integrate it with the stability control [*spits*] and ABS [*spits slightly less violently*] otherwise a Blue Screen Of Death might be a literal term, rather than metaphorical, if you catch my drift.

    [which if Windows is controlling your stability control, is unlikely, arf]

    Imagine a Skyline with Windows controlling the four wheel steering and the drivetrain - you'd spend all morning trying to get it off the line, then you'd understeer half way through the first corner, before the OS jiggles all the power to the rear and sends you oversteering into the ditch, backwards.

    Sorry, gone off on one there, back to work...

    Steven R

  9. Fluffykins Silver badge

    I'm sorry Dave

    I can't let you do that.

  10. Tom

    The Dreaded...

    Blue windscreen of death!!!!

    Literally if this happened it probably would cause some deaths.

  11. Craig

    Re: Every bugger bashing Microsoft

    Erm have any of you lot actually read the article? Or are people generally inclined to bash without thinking these days?

    It's running Windows Mobile, not Windows Vista. It's got an ARM processor, not an Intel piece of crud that is full of errata. It uses voice recognition software from Nuance, not L&H (which is ok in some situations but I have yet to see L&H develop a decent implementation for an operating system).

    Now stop behaving like cretins and start thinking for yourselves! Bashing Microsoft was so 1998...

  12. Robert Armstrong
    Black Helicopters

    Cell phone and MP3 players

    The software allows for hook-up of an MP3 player or iPod and hands free use of a cell phone. There is no interface or application that affects brakes, drive train, steering or any other essential function. Thank God.

    But if you want to act fearful and foolish then please go right ahead and enjoy your hyperbole.


  13. Daniel B.

    Oh yeah...

    "This driver has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down"

    Or, our favorite example on a car braking:

    BRAKES.EXE has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down


    The BOFH would be happy to install Windows in the Boss' car, though....

    Mine's the one with the Blue Screen...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've had a Hyundai since 1998, and it's never given me any trouble at all. Nada, zip, worked great, never let me down once (unless you count the time it wouldn't turn over, when i'd been threatening to replace the battery for the previous 2 years - completely my fault)

    Can you imagine a car where MS wrote the ECU ? (i'm trying not to !)

    Posted anonymously (the shame of admitting owning one...)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    calm down folks this isnt killing kittens

    Why do people bother with the same tired jokes about blue screen of death etc ? I haven't had a blue screen of death on my PC in literally, years. Frankly it's just sad.

    this is just a voice command system, all it does is read text messages to you or pick a song by name from your MP3 player. It's not a car entertainment system, and certainly has no integration with any car functions such as ABS / stability control lol. It works rather well in my opinion - its certainly FAR better than the mercedes system I tried, I would say its *slightly* better than the voice recognition in our 2006 range rover (so, not great, but it works, as long as your not trying to demonstrate it to anyone else :$).

    As for not buying fords over this, its only a $400 option people - its not being forced on you !

  16. Herby

    Shades of 2001?

    "I'm sorry Dave I can't do that"

  17. Steven Raith

    @AC, Craig, Robert Armstrong

    Jesus, get a sense of humour for fucks sake.

    M$ bashing, much like black, will never go out of fashion. And it's still fun.

    Steven R

  18. Eric


    "Can you imagine a car where MS wrote the ECU"

    It's probably work just fine since it doesn't have to be compatible with cars built 20 years ago.

  19. Troy Shanahan
    Gates Halo


    All the same microsoft bashing. Seriously, it's not like the ECU is being mapped my MS (Anon, do you really think MS would map an ECU? Do you know what mapping an ECU entails?) MS is simply providing a base OS to put voice recog software on. It's more gimmick than anything.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Old paradigm that car manufacturers change components to save pennies...?

    > The software allows for hook-up of an MP3 player or iPod and hands free use of a cell phone.

    The story that car manufacturers will alter the construction or sourcing of a component to save pennies has obviously become an urban legend.

    They can choose Open Source (no viruses, oversight of thousands of skilled programmers) which is free - in both senses of the word - or they can pay Microsoft (the convicted, predatory US monopolist that refuses to obey the law in Europe) a licence fee for cruddy, badly-written software for which no source code is available (just as well, from Microsoft's point of view)...

    ... hmmm... difficult one, isn't it? AC, because I too own a Hyundai, which has also been 100% reliable from new - twelve years ago.

    And, sadly, with Microsoft software in new ones, it will be my last also...

    PS - Does anyone know if Microsoft has stumped up all of its fines to the EC yet? You know, the 1 billion Euros for its monopoly abuse and for unlawfully failing to pay the fines already imposed? Just wondered...

  21. Peter Revell

    calm down folks this isn't killing kittens

    Count yourself very fortunate AC. My XP Media Center Edition 2005 crashes 10-12 ttimes a week and I see the Blue Screen of Death 3 times a week.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    "Can you imagine a car where MS wrote the ECU"

    Although it's debatable exactly what the degree of software content is (as ECUs tend to use an OSEK-standard RTOS), but all F1 cars now use a McLaren/Microsoft standard issue ECU.

    So there's obviously a degree of faith there.

    And that's quite apart from all the other systems and vehicles running Windows where people seem to have no problems.

    As for people saying 'I won't buy X', it's a bit pathetic.

  23. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up

    @troy , mapping.

    A rover K-series and an emerald ECU mit Serial dongle = fun.

    8200rpm rev limit, no fuel cut on rev limiter.

    *popbangbangbang* on upchanges.

    Ok, not quite a real map, but makes for good video footage on trackdays for the car behind :-)

    Steven R

  24. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Gates Horns


    Being serious now...

    MS isn't going to disable your brakes or cause the engine to explode due to bugs. There are very serious security issues, though. Imagine a virus injected in MP3, cellphone, Bluetooth, or RDS metadata. MS has a long history of buffer overruns and superfluous features ready for abuse. Your car could be programmed to reveal what electronics devices are inside and where your car is parked so that it's an easy target for thieves. The car could relay audio and GPS records to stalkers. One might even program the system to emit 115dB of auditory pain and flashing dashboard lights when the GPS and speed sensors indicate a high-speed turn is in progress.

    Standardizing on a single buggy system is never good.

  25. Graham Lockley


    Sweet find that mate :)

    I know its MS bashing but...

    I love the idea of the message 'This brake pedal has not been digitally signed, are you sure you want to press it ?'

    or better still 'The evaluation period for this brake pedal has expired, please visit to activate it'

    Oh well,small things, small minds etc. :)

  26. Charles Manning

    They don't write the ECU but...

    ECUs are often connected to other computers via CAN bus bridges etc. Effecting a denial of service attack is very easy on a CAN bus and is something you can do inadvertently.

    As for those that think it will be OK because this is WinCE and not Vista. Dream on. WinCE is no more reliable than Vista.

  27. ImaGnuber

    Brilliant Marketing

    Making jokes is often a defensive act by people who see themselves in an inferior, weak, or vulnerable position, an attempt to assert some (internal illusory) sense of superiority - note jokes about politicians, lawyers etc. and frequent anti-female jokes by men who are not comfortable around women. Most people understand this.

    I'm a Linux fanboy but even I can see that tired anti-MS jokes are nothing more than a confession of a weak position.

    Say what you will about them, they are brilliant marketers. Most people use some form of Windows for their desktop and this familiarity is reinforced the more often MS name gets mentioned in conjunction with something familiar such as cars - the most popular form of transportation, and on and on and on.

    This week it seems a soon-to-be-released Microsoft product will be demonstrated on the tv programme CSI New York and some cast member will say something like "It's a Microsoft world. I'm just living it." or something similar -can't recall the exact words right now. Brilliant marketing. Absolutely brilliant.

    And so I expect to hear tired anti-Microsoft jokes for many, many years to come - they aren't going away anytime soon no matter how much wishful thinking goes on and Linux won't even begin to compete seriously on the desktop until it can manage a similar level of skill.

  28. James O'Brien


    Oh wow too damn fun

    /YAY scavenger hunt by Jimbo, if you can find all the comments along this line today ill give you a, ummm, hmm, a, a, a, shiney new BSOD

  29. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    @Peter Revell

    I'd change your shitty hardware you obviously have some fault there if you have a dual core try disabling the Max CPULimit flag in the BIOS, as for the MS voice rec it's a lot better than the shit they ship with Lexus, and especially better than any open source voice rec as someone suggested (that includes the crud from IBM, although their text to speech is bloody good)

  30. Anonymous Coward

    @Kevin McMurtrie

    >> MS has a long history of buffer overruns

    So do all the OS's - it must be the most common security vulnerability on all the security advisories I have seen

    >> and superfluous features ready for abuse

    Now what does that remind me of – Linux installers a few years back when good knows what would be installed if you select the default options. I still don't know why palm sync software was "essential" – especially since I never had Palm and was setting up in server mode

  31. John Nieurzyla
    Dead Vulture

    Blue screen of death???

    Surely it would be a red screen in a car crash

  32. Ross Ryles

    Where are your Standards People?

    Anything that can affect the safety of a vehicle is designed and manufactured to a raft of standards such as:

    ISO/TS 16949 (Mandatory)

    OSEK (De Facto)

    IEC 61508

    If Microsoft wanted to make inroads into the OS's for ECUs, ABS, etc. then realistically they would have to follow the OSEK standard. Their usual practice of extending standards to create incompatibilities would get them nowhere. Their existing code base for Windows CE would be next to useless. These OSs are true operating systems too - no GUI, no apps, just an OS. As such it's difficult to differentiate your product except on quality, support and price. There are already half a dozen open source OSEK standard operating systems. Draw your own conclusions.

    I imagine MS would be keen to develop non safety related systems such as Sat Nav and Entertainment. That's a large and growing market. Personally I'd like to see that - just so that I could replace it with a linux based system without having to do any hardware mods to my car.

  33. Nev
    Thumb Up

    Hate to admit it..

    Have had a Windows CE/whatever-they-now-call-it bluetooth phone option in my car for two years and it's a great piece of kit. Never had a problem with it and the voice recognition is surprisingly robust.

    It's just another component system that hangs off the CANBus.

    So: sorry naysayers, it works.

  34. Paul Talbot

    re: Brilliant Marketing

    The car jokes are an old chestnut from the Windows 95/98 era, I doubt most people are typing them seriously here. The anti-MS jokes have more to do with the fact that everybody is forced to give money to MS whether we want to or not (try buying a desktop replacement laptop without Windows installed - it's possible but not easy, meaning that Linux users have to pay the Microsoft tax). People are tired of doing so, especially when the products are so shoddy (though admittedly Windows Mobile is one of the better ones).

    I'm with the more serious suggestions here - next time I'm in the market for a new car, I'll be looking carefully and avoiding anything with a Microsoft component. The marketing doesn't affect me - I'm intelligent enough to recognise marketing and make my own conclusions independent of it. I simply don't trust Microsoft and I'm tired of being forced to pay them money due to their monopoly components. Hopefully enough people will do the same to stop yet another revenue stream opening up for them, but I'm pessimistic.

  35. Edward Rose

    A little narrow minded


    A lot of humour is purely done to make oneself (or others) feel happy, typically in this case by showing up (the illusion of) the inflated ego of the target (ie MS is a huge market, yet for a long time it was easy to ridicule them for a poor product).

    So, no, these people aren't insecure. Not one bit. At least not in the sense you mean. It's just harmless fun.

    People shouldn't go out knocking others having fun when no one gets hurt (nope, MS aren't going to be affected by these comments). Just relax and join in.

    What if it can't find the right discs for the brake system? Could you back them up onto the HDD.....

  36. TeeCee Gold badge

    Yup, CANBus.

    That's where Ford need to direct their attention. The ones without any M$ involvement have some odd issues too so, for once, I don't think we can blame Bill's sheep.

    Now, I have no idea who makes Ford's CANBus gear, but if there's a Lucas subsidiary near the Franco-Italian border I'd be prepared to take a guess......

    I say, I say, I say. Why is it that you can only embed Linux in private cars? Because all company cars need a working driver.

    I'll take the flameproof suit please......

  37. ImaGnuber

    @Paul and Edward

    Paul - agree with the anti-microsoft tax sentiment (fanboy here, remember) and think avoiding products containing ms is a good idea. And I share your pessimism - but mainly because of the brilliance of their marketing.

    Hey Eddy, I enjoy *some* of the jokes. I just think they're as much a product of frustration with the fact that the pretty, lean athlete can't overtake the morbidly obese slob.

    Personally I hope she never does. It's pure selfishness but I like using a small-market-share desktop OS that isn't considered a worthwhile target. On the other hand I hope that everyone working in Open Source makes a zillion dollars... so obviously I'm a bit conflicted.

  38. Gavin Nottage

    Re: Old paradigm ...

    "They can choose Open Source (no viruses, oversight of thousands of skilled programmers) which is free - in both senses of the word - or they can pay Microsoft (the convicted, predatory US monopolist that refuses to obey the law in Europe) a licence fee for cruddy, badly-written software for which no source code is available (just as well, from Microsoft's point of view)..."

    It's not as straightforward as downloading the code and then compiling it for the target hardware, loading it in and it all just works. There would be a complete software development cycle, with loads of testing to make sure it was up to scratch. Open source may be great for some things, but in the embedded world most manufacturers want a company to be responsible for such things. It's more a co-operation than a EULA. And it means that if it goes wrong, M$ engineers will be sorting it out at a cost to M$.

    Also, if you don't want to line the pockets of M$, then don't chose the option on your new car. There will be enough competitors soon enough for OEMs, and you can retrofit this kind of technology anyway.

  39. Luke Wells
    Thumb Down

    Everything in a car is connected together these days

    To those people saying that the MS software is going to have no control over the safety critical features of the car......

    If I plug a VAGCOM cable into my car, though this one cable I can access the ECU, the stereo, the bluetooth, the door locks, immobilizer, alarm and security features, the dash board, and the abs/tcs/esp modules. Malfunctioning modules can cause problems with other modules as they send spurious commands over the bus, so what makes you think that the Microsoft module wont?

  40. Ross Ryles

    @Luke Wells

    "I can access the ECU, the stereo, the bluetooth, the door locks, immobilizer, alarm and security features, the dash board, and the abs/tcs/esp modules."

    The stereo and bluetooth shouldn't be on the CAN with the rest of those. They certainly aren't in my car (VAG manufactured). The others are all safety related systems and need to communicate with each other. Please don't be offended by this but are you sure the stereo is on the CAN? What does it use the connection for? Can you replace it with an after market system?

  41. red floyd

    @Gavin Nottage

    If you want an embedded Linux with a vendor behind it, Wind River sells Linux as well as VxWorks. And they also have an RT variant.

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