back to article Microsoft said to be thinking of sinking $10m into self-driving truck startup

Microsoft is reportedly considering investing $10 million in autonomous vehicle startup Gatik, a move in line with its strategy of supporting companies in the industry rather than launching its own competing product set from scratch. In this case, Reuters reported that Microsoft is in advanced talks with the self-driving …

  1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Hello. I'm Clippy. It looks like you're trying to turn around. Would you like me to stuff your truck through the centre reservation crash barrier?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Thanks for your offer Clippy, that was helpful but we decided that everything would be a lot easier to just put the truck contents on a train for delivery to the local area. Lower carbon costs for the train transit and less traffic on the roads so that will help the climate too.

      1. Lorribot

        sorry trains aren't running...

        only flaw in that plan is the overpaid train drivers are on strike again, clippy when are you going to do self driving trains everywhere like they have in dockland in the 1980s surely that would so much easier and cheaper to run train lines and reduce fares for the poor commuters and make haulage by train cheaper and better too.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: sorry trains aren't running...

          We actually have self driving trains in my part of the country.

        2. captain veg Silver badge

          Re: sorry trains aren't running...

          The DLR trains don't really drive themselves, though, do they? They're in a closed system where the position and direction of all the other trains is under the control of the same computer. Carriages are under constant (human) camera surveillance. And, last time I rode one, there was a "train Captain" on board to take care of any glitches.

          And they're on rails.


          I admit this was a long time ago. Maybe the captains have been airbrushed by now. I well remember being on one such train which confidently powered out of a station, jammed on the brakes, reversed back into the same station, then repeated those manouevres. Eventually the "captain" unbolted a panel at the front and did something inside which, I imagine, rebooted the system, and we continued.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      God damn it clippy, I disable you three updates ago.

  2. Dwarf

    Microsoft and cars - no thanks

    With their approach to quality control on their software - as evidenced by the constant breaking of Windows updates, I can only imaging the fun that owners would have not knowing if their car will start today, or if I'll suddenly have to pull over mid journey for 20 minutes whilst critical updates (candy crush or similar) is installed.

    Then there will be the problem with the user interface, things will keep moving for no apparent reason, today we have decided to move the main user interface screen from centre in the dashboard to behind the light cluster in the boot. Next week it will be under the front wheel.

    And of course, we've all seen the Microsoft vs General motors "If cars were like computers" joke from years ago which seems very appropriate right now. Perhaps this is about to become a reality, just with a different person running Microsoft today. Here's a copy I located on-line, not sure who the original author was.

    At a recent computer exposition, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If General Motors had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

    In response to Bill’s comments, GM issued a press release stating: “If General Motors had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

    1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

    2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

    3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept this.

    4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

    5 Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

    6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “General Protection Fault” warning light.

    7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.

    8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

    9. Every time GM introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

    10 You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft and cars - no thanks

      Cute as this post is, Microsoft wants the IP (Patents) to make money, not put out an actual product of their own. Why innovate when you can tax an innovator using your patent forever.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft and cars - no thanks

      I came to this comment section fully expecting to see this meme resurface and the very first comment pays off :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 10 You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.

      This is factually correct in some cars otherwise MS can go pound sand.

      For a $10M investment to make headlines here it must be a slow news day.

      Now if it were $10B it would be news because as Elon the Almighty is finding out FSD is a lot harder and considerably more expensive than most 'C' level bozos think...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft and cars - no thanks

      Don't forget scratch Tuesday.

    5. nifto

      Re: Microsoft and cars - no thanks

      8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

      This takes me back to when Southern Rail changed over to modern trains, we couldn't board at London Bridge because the doors wouldn't open, after some time the driver returned with a piece of paper that had Ctrl Alt Delete scribbled on it.

  3. Wellyboot Silver badge


    Long long ago, MS was willing to let anyone pirate their OS because it meant they'd probably pick up other far more expensive MS software*.

    All these deals feel like a similar play is in operation to get more clients onto Azure hoping the 'migration has risks' attitude will prevail again.

    * Compilers initially, that created programs to run on either DOS or XENIX, then it was the Office & DB applications they really wanted to sell.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Flashback

      Same with Adobe. Kids pirating Photoshop was good for them, because a small percentage of those kids would end up becoming graphic designers at firms which couldn't afford the risk of pirating software. So they'd insist that the full Adobe Suite was necessary for their job, and every new version as it came out.

      RIP my software budget, because what the marketing department wanted...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flashback

        Interesting take.

        In 1991, Photoshop was more or less the only viable package for that particular line of work. At least, the only one any good at it's specific niche - it was probably well into the late 90's before a decent competitor appeared.

        I was amongst those that learned that particular trade on that particular variety of "student licensing". I quite liked PS up to v6 or thereabouts. Since then, the version numbers have changed but the utility of the program hasn't meaningfully altered for most. And the licensing utterly extortionate. While piracy isn't really defensible; picking up Adobe Suite for £600+ as a student is a non-starter hence, piracy was widespread. The subscription model now is practically a gateway drug. Let them have a sample at a still significant, but viable enough price to get them hooked. There is also a part of me that thinks that Adobe was not overly aggressive to the pirates in the early days, because word-of-mouth actually works in their favour.

        GIMP is good enough for the occassional use; and if I needed a team of full time graphics people I'd be looking to one of the many alternatives now knocking about that still offer pay-one-price.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Needs 5 minutes to start up

    > Microsoft is reportedly considering investing $10 million in autonomous vehicle startup Gatik

    So will their products now stop at inopportune (and frequent) times to install trivial updates?

    And take far too long to switch off once you get to your destination?

    And every time you want to look in the rear view mirror, you have to wait until all the advertisements it is displaying, have finished

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Needs 5 minutes to start up

      When I hit the dashboard with my clipboard I want you to brake as if a child had run out into the road

      ......Installing updates 0% .....

  5. Plest Silver badge

    Driving license renewal due soon...

    ...wondering if I should bother and just give up driving as the roads might be about to become something akin to a scene from Mad Max!

  6. heyrick Silver badge


    They're throwing ten million at a company that has otherwise managed to raise around seven hundred million.

    This isn't an investment, it's a cheap bribe consideration to promote the use of their cloud/tech services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Er, no...

      No. Gatik has raised $121.6M, and Microsoft will add $10M. The "valuation" of a startup is no different than the valuation of a public company. #-of-shares-outstanding x Price per share paid by the last buyer of shares. So if in fact Microsoft pays $10M for some shares, the valuation will be $700M, but the company will have only raised $131.6M.

      Math - if you don't understand it, you probably should not be in tech.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Er, no...

        There's maths, then there's the sort of 'maths' that says that a company that makes no money is 'worth' $bignum (or that the price of crypto will always go up).

        Economics has a somewhat arms-length relationship with maths.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Er, no...

        >Math - if you don't understand it, you probably should not be in tech.

        Special series-A math

        Your company has raised $100M but has no product/sales/hope of a product for X years.

        I'll give you $10M for 1% = you are now worth $1Bn

        In return you guarantee I get 10x return on my $10M before anyone else (including the founders) get any money out.

        And we get first refusal to invest in any future rounds on preferential rates

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Payment in kind?

      Is MS just offering $10M in Azure services?

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Chump change

    Given the sums being spent in this area, an investment of this size hardly counts, though it might in the form of credits for processing on Azure. Self-driving vehicles, especially trucks, require, pace Steve Balmer, telemetry, telemetry, telemetry from existing vehicles. This gives incumbents and their partners a pretty good advantage and they're already including it in their products.

  8. codejunky Silver badge


    Whole new meaning to 'the truck has crashed'

  9. FlamingDeath Silver badge


    Who are Microsoft?

    Did you mean Microturd?

    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: Who?

      Are you 15 years old or something ?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just hope these trucks will have good reliable ignition systems.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    But will these trucks be able to pull "near infinite mass" like Tesla's?

    Tesla’s Claim That Cybertruck Can Pull “Near Infinite Mass” Is Hilarious Bullshit

    ... like most things Musk's companies claim I think.

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: But will these trucks be able to pull "near infinite mass" like Tesla's?

      It can, of course. You put a little trailer behind it and name the trailer "Near Infinite Mass", and then drive the truck with the trailer. The truck just pulled Near Infinite Mass.

  12. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge


    Of course, they will all need to have purchased licences before the vehicle will move.

  13. Ashto5 Bronze badge

    Goods will be delivered by Edge

    All goods will be delivered by Edge and can be found in the downloads folder.

    Double click fridge to see what virtual food you have.

  14. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    This has to be a tax, patent, or money laundering trick.

  15. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Where can I find updated drivers for this MS truck?

    So I'm doing 120km/h on the highway and suddenly I see the BSOD filling the entire view and a helpful message stating that the steering and breaking subsystems have been disabled to prevent damage to the rest of the system. On updating the software I find that MS has dropped support for the electrical system – I need to replace my truck. Every truck comes with a bunch of non-standard extensions so it doesn't play particularly well with normal road infrastructure or traffic regulations. Embrace, extend, extinguish applies to all other road users. The truck shows advertisements for your competitor's products on the sided. The truck phones home to MS constantly to report on the type of payload it is carrying and its destination so that MS can sell this data to your competitors.


    1. captain veg Silver badge

      So I'm doing 120km/h on the highway and suddenly I see the BSOD

      Something a little bit like that once happened to me.

      I was motoring along a rural dual-carriageway in late summer when a watering machine in the adjacent field chucked about a tonne of water on to my windscreen, rendering forward vision inoperative.

      For the first milliseconds I considered what I should do. Apply the brakes!

      For the next milliseconds I tried to remember what had been ahead of me before the water dump. Should I brake sharply, and risk collision from behind, or gently and risk crashing into the vehicle ahead or simply running off the road? Should I try to pull off on to the hard shoulder, risking ending up upside down in a ditch?

      Then I switched on the windscreen wipers, and all was well.


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Server connection lost; buffering... please wait in traffic... buffering..."

  17. Auntie Dix Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Machete the Mitts of Monopolist Microsoft

    Micro$haft does not belong anywhere near critical real-time systems, medical or otherwise.

  18. Jim Whitaker

    10 Million $? That would hardly pay for the design of the paintwork.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like