Microsoft Unveils OS For Portable Navigation Devices - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Unveils OS For Portable Navigation Devices

Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 includes technologies for connecting PNDs to online services, mobile phones, and Windows-based PCs.

Microsoft on Monday introduced its first operating system designed for manufacturers of handheld portable navigation devices.

Windows Embedded NavReady 2009, which is based on Windows Embedded CE, includes technologies for connecting PNDs to online services, mobile phones using Bluetooth, and Windows-based PCs. The OS includes online search through Microsoft's Live Search and also includes the software maker's Live Search Map service.

Through the OS's Bluetooth support, manufacturers can build PNDs that connect to mobile phones to share data, such as address books, or make hands-free phone calls. Manufacturers also can choose to connect devices to Microsoft's MSN Direct services, which provide commuter information such as traffic alerts and fuel prices.

In releasing NavReady, Microsoft had its sights on the upcoming holiday shopping season. "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," Kevin Dallas, general manger of the Windows embedded business at Microsoft, said in a statement.

NavReady 2009 is the second device-category-specific OS to be introduced from Microsoft's embedded business. The first was Windows Embedded POSReady, which is for point-of-service devices. The OS is scheduled to ship next year. NavReady is available now.

Microsoft in April announced its road map for its embedded business, including placing the line of products under the Windows Embedded Ready brand. In addition, the company said it would ship preconfigured toolkits with the operating systems to help manufacturers get products out faster.

The first product release under the new brand was the Windows Embedded Standard, which shipped this month and is the next generation of Windows XP Embedded. In addition, Microsoft plans to release Windows Embedded Compact, the next-generation of Windows Embedded CE, next year.

Finally, Microsoft is also planning to release a fully application-compatible embedded OS called Windows Embedded Enterprise, composed of Windows Vista and Windows XP for Embedded System. The new OS will be licensed exclusively for embedded device development.

While Microsoft dominates the OS market for PCs, experts say the bigger market in the future will likely be in the wide variety of handheld computers and devices with narrower functionality, such as Web browsing, checking e-mail, communications, personal navigation, and entertainment.

Microsoft in May said it expects sales of its Windows Mobile OS for smartphones to grow by at least 50% annually through fiscal years 2008 and 2009. In its most recent quarterly report, the company said Windows Mobile sales are growing as a result of "increased market demand for phone-enabled devices and Windows Embedded operating systems."

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