Volkswagen partners with Microsoft to keep cars connected to the cloud

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Volkswagen Automotive Cloud

Volkswagen and Microsoft are teaming up to make staying connected in your car a breeze. The automaker and tech giant announced today (opens in new tab) that their partnership will power the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, a service built on a variety of Microsoft's cloud platforms that will eventually allow drivers to keep up with their online calendars, take part in conference calls, and more, all while on the road.

According to Microsoft, Volkswagen Automotive Cloud will take advantage of Azure and the IoT Edge platform. From Microsoft:

To start, the cloud will leverage Microsoft cloud services including Azure IoT, PowerBI and Skype to help create in-car consumer experiences, telematics and productivity solutions. By building its own dedicated automotive cloud, Volkswagen will be able to leverage consistent mobility services across its entire portfolio of brands.

As part of the initiative, Volkswagen says it plans to set up shop with a new legal entity close to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where it will build the Automotive Cloud with access to support and resources from Microsoft.

According to Heiko Huettel, the head of Volkswagen Group's connected car initiative, the company chose to partner with Microsoft after seeing how the tech giant itself had been transforming in recent years.

"We came to the conclusion that we needed to change in a revolutionary way," Huettel says. "We want to leverage what we can from Microsoft's culture and Microsoft's technology. We want to be the Microsoft of the automotive industry, in terms of being seen as the company that made a digital transformation and is really perceived as one of the digital players in the market."

There's no word on when Volkswagen will begin integrating its Automotive Cloud platform in its vehicles, but it's a big win for Microsoft and its cloud efforts that could lead to an increased presence in the automotive industry.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Maybe Microsoft can help VW and Audi improve on their emissions software that switches off emissions control systems during normal driving, which results in better performance – and nitrogen oxide emissions exceeding standards by up to 40 times.
  • I still remember when I was that young and so innocent.
  • VW is so crooked with its emissions lies it might be a Trump business. But maybe MS can help make them more transparent and less crooked? Hey, a boy can dream.
  • So many questions. Will this be a US project only, or will this be availalbe as a service in other markets outside the US?
    If so what will be the focus in the consumer market? Consumer is a broad term.
    Will microsoft continue cloud serivce beyond the 25 year lifespan of a car on the road for consumers who buy in second, thirdhand or beyond? If not what guarantees wil Microsoft and Volkswagen give to keep the vehicle servicable in the longterm. Cars are reliable longer than a 5-8 year lifespan, which is often beyond the lifespan of software and computers. How will microsoft and volkswagen uphold their guarantees if the connected car to the cloud will be part of the cars specs that consumers will buy in to as part of the package deal?
    Will Microsoft support more languages for Cortana? There are a lot of regional markets with different languages? (in relation to Cortana services, which is lagging behind in regional and language support). What voice will (potential) vehicle owners have in vehicle and device updates in the short (within the first 5 years of vehicle life), mid- (5-10 years of vehicle life) and longterm (behond 10 years). Will volkswagen and microsoft still consider realistic longterm cloud and software support for vehicle owners with volkswagen automotive cloud as part of the business model?
  • This is a good deal for Microsoft for certain and VW as well. It will be global, not US only. The article does not include that fact but the linked press release does. As to your questions about length of reliability, that is an unknown for now, but probably will vary by the services involved. Something that is of vital need for car operation will need to go on forever, but infotainment services will probably be subscription based. I know my Toyota came with three years of satellite radio and traffic and app support. I've chosen to continue those at my cost in the years since. I suspect we will see services we haven't imagined yet as connected cars become more of a thing. Microsoft doesn't need to own the front end of the connected car to be successful on the cloud end, but I'll bet they push some front facing services as part of this deal. My Toyota Entune app suite uses Bing for search, for example.