Microsoft unveils first OS for portable navigation devices

Microsoft unveiled Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 for mobile navigation devices

Microsoft on Tuesday introduced its first-ever embedded OS for portable devices that use GPS (global positioning system) and maps to get people where they want to go.

Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 is aimed at companies building handheld electronic navigation devices and includes several features to make them Web-friendly, such as easy connections to online services and the Internet, as well as links to mobile phones via Bluetooth, and to Windows-based PCs.

The aim of the new OS is to spread the popularity of portable navigation devices (PND) by adding or enhancing new features such as Internet connectivity and services. PNDs are among the hottest electronic devices this year.

Microsoft included Live Search in the new OS to help people find points of interest on their devices, similar to Microsoft's Live Search Maps service.

People whose mobile phones contain Bluetooth technology will be able to pair them with new NavReady 2009-based PNDs for hands-free phone book access, audio and video remote control, dial-up networking and to make hands-free phone calls and data connections.

The new OS also syncs to MSN Direct for updates on traffic conditions, petrol prices and more, Microsoft said.

The OS also allows PNDs to be used as secondary display screens for many mobile PCs using the Windows Vista OS, a Microsoft technology called SideShow. Users may be able to connect their PND to their laptop and access information from the device, without having to boot-up.

The new OS is based on Windows Embedded CE, which has been around for over a decade.

Taiwan's Mio Technology plans to use Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 in its next line of Mio GPS devices. The name of Microsoft's new OS also works well for Mio. The Taiwanese company bought Navman's handheld business from the New Zealand company, Navman, last year. Earlier this year, Mio stopped using the Navman name in most markets, save for a few places the name is strong, such as Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the UK.

Mio said it expected Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 to help it create and deliver new products faster.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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