Microsoft Announces Peak Performance Initiative for the Automotive Community

DEARBORN, Mich. - Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates teamed with Microsoft Corp.'s automotive team in announcing the Peak Performance Initiative, designed to help the automotive community accelerate insight through advanced analysis services, drive innovation through collaboration, and improve performance via increased visibility into operations across the automotive supply chain. Microsoft's Automotive and Industrial Equipment, Automotive Product Unit and MSN® Autos, along with its auto industry partners are delivering solutions to the automotive industry focused on four areas: new product development performance, operational performance, supply chain performance, and sales and customer service performance.

Based on research and feedback from auto industry partners, customers and industry experts, the Peak Performance Initiative employs a number of key Microsoft technologies -- including the Microsoft .NET Framework, Microsoft Office 2003, including Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003 and Microsoft Office Project Server 2003, Windows Server(TM) 2003, Microsoft SQL Server(TM) 2000, Windows Mobile(TM) and MSN -- as well as a variety of open industry standards designed to provide a opportunity for the automotive community customers to take advantage of their legacy investments. The Peak Performance Initiative leverages Web services to connect key systems, customers and organizations across the automotive supply chain.

The initiative is being launched with the support of more than 25 global industry partners, all of which have committed to delivering automotive solutions and services that align with Microsoft's initiative. These companies include Accenture, Actify Inc., Activplant Corp., Active Web Services, AIM Computer Solutions, Avanade, Capgemini, CoCreate Software Inc., Dassault Systemes, eBots Inc., EDS, GE Fanuc Automation, Genzlinger Associates Inc., HP, ICONICS, Immedient, Infosys Technologies Ltd., JAAS Systems Ltd., Microvision Inc., Orlando Software Group Inc., Powerway Inc., PTC, The Reynolds and Reynolds Co., Siebel Systems Inc., UGS Corp., vSync and WhereNet Corp.

The collaboration and free exchange of technical specifications, 3-D drawings and new product designs must be synchronized for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to further shrink the product development cycle. Microsoft Office 2003 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003 use Web services to help teams share and collaborate on product and design information. Automakers, suppliers and dealers are also implementing Microsoft Office 2003 applications to manage schedules and resources and Project Server 2003 to automate project management capabilities.

 Microsoft's partner solution set facilitates plant floor operations by embracing standards, such as OPC to promote interoperability across the plant floor environment. Managers can enable visibility into plant floor operations by using SQL Server 2000 to capture and store plant floor data and transport that data to SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

Microsoft industry partners are helping automotive manufacturers leverage the latest technologies, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), to provide manufacturers with information that can impact product delivery schedules. To support these innovations, automotive manufacturers are leveraging Microsoft technologies, such as SQL Server 2000, to capture data, and SharePoint Portal Server 2003, to distribute data to the appropriate business line managers.

 Dealers using Microsoft technologies such as .NET, Windows Server 2003 and BizTalk® Server 2004 can notify a salesperson from a dealership when a promising lead has been assigned.

Another area where Microsoft is helping OEMs and suppliers achieve peak performance is in automotive electronics, specifically in-vehicle technologies. Microsoft announced the official name of its mobile in-car software platform and reference design. Previously referred to by its code name, "T-box," Windows Mobile for Automotive will be the latest addition to the Automotive Business Unit's family of products. Windows Mobile for Automotive is a consumer electronics gateway that delivers a range of benefits for automakers, suppliers, drivers and passengers. It is scheduled to be available next year.

Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit is collaborating with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., ScanSoft Inc., Siemens AG, SiRF Technology Inc., Xilinx Inc. and Magneti Marelli Holding SpA to develop a telematics system to be integrated into every new Fiat Auto car. Based on a reference design defined by Microsoft and Fiat Auto, the system will incorporate key aspects from each collaborator, including a chip set, processors, a telecommunications module, a speech engine and hardware development. Windows Mobile for Automotive will define Microsoft's standard platform for telematics systems.

Microsoft's Peak Performance Initiative employs open industry standards and Web services, as well as several manufacturing-specific standards, such as OPC, ISA-99, ISA-95, RFID, OAGIS and those promulgated by UCCNet to provide the automotive value chain with an architecture that optimizes use of its legacy infrastructure.

Microsoft intends to invest more than $6 billion (U.S.) in research and development (RandD) this year on technologies that fulfill its evolving vision for the future of computing. The company also has created an internal group focused on understanding the long-term vision of its companywide RandD efforts and deciding how these efforts apply to vertical industries, such as automotive.

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