Microsoft in Car Harman

Autonomous vehicles are going to change numerous industries, such as the insurance market. However, the most impacted industry is likely to be the automotive sector, with manufacturers having to accept liability for accidents and tech companies arriving on the scene to build their own vehicles. Microsoft has said it has no aspirations to build a self-driving car, although the company is extremely interesting in offering software and services to manufacturers.

While companies like Google has certain desires to build their own vehicles to drive their tech and services (despite a recent deal with Fiat Chrysler), Microsoft is much more interested in the ground level development. Speaking at the Converge conference in Hong Kong this week, Redmond’s Peggy Johnson said the company will be software focused in the autonomous vehicle market:

We won’t be building our own autonomous vehicle but we would like to enable autonomous vehicles and assisted driving as well,” said Johnson, who is the head of business development at Microsoft.

Of course, things could change in the future, but at the moment, Microsoft is interested in selling its services to manufacturers, possibly bringing a new platform for Windows or Azure to expand to. The company wants to provide operating systems for in-car technology, which in the age of autonomy would also include service packages like Office.

Driverless vehicles will allow passengers to relax with entertainment or get productive with work, so arguably Windows (the leading PC OS after all) is the ideal platform for in-car systems. Johnson said the company is open to working with vehicle manufacturers on such software:

We in different ways enabled a variety of different partners and you’ll see us continuing to do that,” explained Johnson.

One example of an existing partnership is with Harman, which is now integrating Office 365 into its in-car infotainment technology. “You’re sitting in the car for many, many minutes a day. Can that be part of your new office, can it be your new desk, a place where you actually get work done?” asked Johnson. “We believe it can.