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Fiat Joins Microsoft in a Wireless Partnership

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the hacked-cars-make-good-wardrivers dept.

Microsoft 219

bizpile writes "The AP is reporting that Microsoft and Fiat have gotten together to develop a system of wireless communications into Fiat's vehicles. The goal of the alliance, announced Thursday, is to create a flexible, easy-to-use telematics system (think OnStar from General Motors) for Fiat and its Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands sold in Europe, the companies said."

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HAVE SOME GOATSE WITH YOUR BREAKFAST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714922)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)_______|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


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SUMMARY OF ALL POSTS BELOW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714924)

Bill Gates is evil, Micro$loth is a bad company cause they try to make money, Apple is great because... um they dont try to make money, er, wait... LONG LIVE OPEN SORES!! yay

Bluetooth and wireless (4, Funny)

olderchurch (242469) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714928)

Does this mean that I can hack away at somebodies car? I hope it has a bit more security then the usual Microsoft products. And do I need to run Windows Update every week if I have such a system in my car?

REPLY TO YOUR POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714933)

Just refer to my post (directly above yours).

P.S. You really need some new material.

Re:Bluetooth and wireless (2, Interesting)

Zawash (147532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714954)

Last year Mercedes declined [tomshardware.com] to add bluetooth to any of their 2003 and 2004 models - so they should be safe, I guess. Fiat cars thus seem to be a bit more unsafe.. ;)

Re:Bluetooth and wireless (2, Informative)

fewnorms (630720) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715086)

Bullshit, due to circumstances I happen to drive a 2004 Mercedes C200 CDI for 2 weeks, and I can tell you my mobile phone is quite at home in it's Bluetooth enviroment :)

Back to On-Topic:
And as my own car is a 2004 Alfa Romeo 156, I wish it had some integrated way of connecting my phone ... Too bad tho that what's going to be implemented into the newer models will come from Microsoft and have nothing to do with accessing the car from the outside for consumers, but merely allowing service people and the likes to easily diagnose car problems without the need to take a few seconds extra to hook it up to a machine instead.

Re:Bluetooth and wireless (5, Funny)

danormsby (529805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714975)

If we hack it can we remote control it with "Remote Assistance" [microsoft.com] ?

I can imagine the phone call from my girlfriend already... "Dan, I'm trying to parallel park but can't do it in these shoes. Can you remote connect? My IP address is..."

Re:Bluetooth and wireless (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715009)

will it use IPv6? there's a damn lot of cars out there.

Re:Bluetooth and wireless (-1, Offtopic)

weighn (578357) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714981)

I imagined this would be first post . . . just before reading it. yawn.

Lovely.... (5, Funny)

HiQ (159108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714930)

Driving around on a hot summer day in your Fiat, with your Windows wide open......

Re:Lovely.... (5, Informative)

Aranel (795463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714955)

Fiat's electrics are reknowned for being dodgy at best (I own two so I should know ;o) ) . Imagine driving a car with Fiat electrics and MS comms...recipe for disaster?! :op --Sarah

Re:Lovely.... (4, Informative)

HiQ (159108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714972)

i've never owned a Fiat, but know some people who did. One of them complained that his windows would open all of themselves every now and then (when driving on a highway in winter). Another had Alfa Romeo (same concern I believe) which almost always blew it's headlights when you turned then on. So indeed, crappy electrical wiring...

Re:Lovely.... (4, Funny)

Aranel (795463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715002)

Fiat's rock. My Tipo used to regularly do 999MPH (it had an electronic dashboard). The Windows (no pun intended) wouldn't close unless someone was leaning on them. My coupe had dodgy wiring in the boot, so I got to be part of the mafia for the day and shut my mechanic in the boot :o) But if MS get involved....there's no way I'm buying another Fiat!!! Sarah

We all know what FIAT stands for ... (3, Funny)

arhar (773548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715131)

... Fix It Again, Tony!

It's only fitting that they partner up with MicroSoft.

Re:Lovely.... (2, Informative)

c0p0n (770852) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715200)

I DO own a Fiat (this one [fiat.com] , Seicento SX).
This car performs very well for such a small engine (non-diesel 1.1cc, 55HP), I never had an engine problem (45k kilometers so far), the electric system performs well, though I had to replace the default front lights (the short ones, dunno how to say that in english) due to low intensity. I have several extras: electric windows, centralized lock, ABS, AC, 2 airbags, mp3 radio car and so.
I cannot speak about engine overheating, since it has no temp meter, but never noticed anything wrong when driving with high temp outside (I live in Seville, Spain, we have HUGE temperatures on summer).
Cannot speak about other models, but I never had a single problem with this little car, I am happy with it since I do mostly city driving (though I did some large trips with it).

Re:Lovely.... (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715093)

Yes, every 10k's you'll have to get everyone out of the car and restart the journey.

Re:Lovely.... (1)

antic (29198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714988)


Well, it would've been an interesting decision for Fiat. Do they sit around hoping someone else will offer to get them in the headlines, looking like they're doing something interesting, or do they take Microsoft up on their offer and risk endless Slashdot ridicule by partnering with them?

I've heard little good said about Fiat or Microsoft. Maybe this is a case of some guy trying to pick up the ugly girl because there'd be less competition?

Re:Lovely.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714998)

argg it's so early in the morning. I could be going back to bed right now...in Japan!

Re:Lovely.... (1)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715022)

... looking at a blue screen when you crash ...

Welcome Pwn3d-Star (5, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714931)

This Fiat/Microsoft article reminded me of an old gem:

For the sake of argument, let's nickname this service Pwn3d-Star, so I guess this is your Fiat updated version!

1. Every time the server-side software is upgraded, you'll have to buy a new car.

2. When your Fiat dies on the freeway randomly, you can now be told by a Pwn3d-Star agent that you have to restart it. They would also say nice things and pepper MS branding through the whole conversation.

3. If your car failed to restart after one weird maneuver (like backing up too quick), the new Pwn3d-Star agents will tell you that they will send a tow-truck to you for an extra surcharge, and that your engine will need to be replaced.

4. You can now have more than one person in the car, but they will all need their own license to use Pwn3d-Star, even if they are dying on the road.

5. Macintosh will not do this, but if they do, it will be 100x better and have a super-iPod built in. You'll be able to download music without leaving your car, which is great for many car geeks, although Fiats aren't that popular among car geeks.

6. (this one didn't change) The oil, engine, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced with a single "General Car Fault" warning light.

7. (strangely this one didn't change either) People would get excited about the "new" features in Microsoft cars, forgetting completely that they had been available in other cars for many years.

8. We will have to get Microsoft gas to run the vehicle, or a Pwn3d-Star agent will tell us that the gas we are purchasing is not Microsoft Certified, and we may be in violation of our warranty if we continue to use said gas.

9. New seats will force everyone to have the same sized butt. Pwn3d-Star will warn you if someone's butt is too big or small.

10. The airbags will now say "Are you sure?" before deploying. (pretty much the same as the original)

11. If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened, but the Pwn3d-Star agent would tell you that techsupport is working on an explanation. Then you would get some excellent elevator music for about a half hour as you cling to life.

Re:Welcome Pwn3d-Star (4, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714966)

The oil, engine, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced with a single "General Car Fault" warning light.

Already been thought of! Courtesy of the Unix Fortune cookie program:-

"Brian Kernighan has an automobile which he helped design. Unlike most automobiles, it has neither speedometer, nor gas gauge, nor any of the numerous idiot lights which plague the modern driver. Rather, if the driver makes any mistake, a giant "?" lights up in the center of the dashboard. "The experienced driver", he says, "will usually know what's wrong."

Re:Welcome Pwn3d-Star (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714970)

wasn't there another thing that made you close all windows, get out of the car, get in again and open your windows again ?

Re:Welcome Pwn3d-Star (1)

Glumac (797466) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714978)

You know, you are talking abou Fiat here... let's analyse:

1. Every time the server-side software is upgraded, you'll have to buy a new car.
Fiats randomly suffer catastrophic software faliures anyway, resuling in the need for a new computer for the car. Feature already available.

2. When your Fiat dies on the freeway randomly, you can now be told by a Pwn3d-Star agent that you have to restart it. They would also say nice things and pepper MS branding through the whole conversation.
If it's standing by the road, it's a Fiat, Alfa or a Lancia - however, you don't get the MS branding to go with it. This is an enhancement on the previousley available features.

3. If your car failed to restart after one weird maneuver (like backing up too quick), the new Pwn3d-Star agents will tell you that they will send a tow-truck to you for an extra surcharge, and that your engine will need to be replaced.
If your engine doesn't die once within your warranty, you have an exceptionally good car. The towing service does come for free with the car in some EU countries however! Sorry, this is a definite non-product-experience-enhancing feature.

....
9. New seats will force everyone to have the same sized butt. Pwn3d-Star will warn you if someone's butt is too big or small.
If you're a mazohist, a Fiat is your best choice of Motor vehicle - this feature IS A STANDARD WITH ALL CARS from Fiat! :)

10. The airbags will now say "Are you sure?" before deploying. (pretty much the same as the original)
Airbags don't deploy - period. This is a definite enhancement! Now you'll be more confident when your airbags don't open :D

11. If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened, but the Pwn3d-Star agent would tell you that techsupport is working on an explanation. Then you would get some excellent elevator music for about a half hour as you cling to life.
Um, no. You'd be dead already. Sorry folks, to call Fiat a car is almost the same as calling a Yugo a coffin. Both are gross overstatements, seeing as Fiat is arguably one of the worst European car brands, and a Yugo is more of a urn on wheels :D

Yugos were quite good, actually. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715213)

So were FSOs and Ladas. It's remarkable that FIAT cars could be improved by selling the designs to the Eastern Bloc, to be made over there.


I had a damn sight less trouble from my FSO Polonez (Polski Fiat) than one of my friends with the otherwise-identical FIAT Super Miafiori.

Re:Welcome Pwn3d-Star (1)

subzero_ice (624972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715126)

dude, thats the first thing that came to my mind and I am considering forwarding the article to FIAT.

Close the windows! (2, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714932)

Well you know what to do when the vehicle crashes... Close all windows and try a restart.

Re:Close the windows! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715172)

But will they include the valuable Undo operation? For example, if you have an accident, just invoke undo until you are in a safe state again. Then just drive differently (take another route, wait until the dangerous situation is over, ...)

Dangerous? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714935)

Brings a whole new meaning to blue windscreen of death

The Same Fiat.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714936)

Possessed by the Church and at one point "owned" half the active landmines in the world.

Sounds like a good business partner for Microsoft heh?

How long before we can install Linux... (1, Funny)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714937)

whatever, I'm sure we'll soon be able to install Linux on it in any case :-D

And that's why..... (1, Funny)

ZZeta (743322) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714939)

I don't drive a Fiat...

Hmm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714948)

A Fiat with WiFi sounds like a really crappy episode of Pimp My Ride.

Re:Hmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715112)

Is there a difference between making a joke and trolling? Apparently 30% think not.

How fitting (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714952)

In Germany FIAT stands for

Für Italien ausreichende Technik
(for Italy adequate technique)

or

Fehler in allen Teilen
(Fault in all parts)

No better partner than Microsoft.

Re:How fitting (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714979)

In Italy "german" stands for "asshole"

Re:How fitting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715007)

Hey, this should be marked 'informative':-)

Re:How fitting (1)

kd4evr (712384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715006)

F.I.A.T. = Failure of Italian Automobile Technology

FIAT & M$ - a match made in heaven. Should get along
like a house on fire.

Re:How fitting (1)

volgers (545215) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715102)

or: Fahr immer am Tag
(always drive during the day)

Why? Because the garages are closed at night. But now you can have 24-hour MS "support". How would that go?

(MS-Sup) "Hello, MS/FIAT support, how can I help you?"
(You) "Hi, I'm stuck on the motorway and my engine does not start anymore!"
(MS) "Did you try turning the key?"
etc. Well, you get the idea... Better stick to my Volvo I guess.

Re:How fitting (3, Insightful)

splateagle (557203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715181)

*chortle* I take it you didn't rtfa?

To date, Microsoft's telematics customers include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Citroen, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volvo

Re:How fitting (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715137)

In England, its:

Fix It Again Tomorrow

Re:How fitting (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715139)

In America it stands for:

Fix it again Tony

Re:How fitting (0, Redundant)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715143)

In America, it stands for:

Fix It Again, Tony!

Re:How fitting (1)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715170)

Ok Ok ...i have to agree that FIAT is a very crappy car when compared to Mercedes, BMW or even VW.
But dont you forget that FIAT is also owner of FERRARI (One of the best). And this brings on an interesting point:
Will Ferrari cars have this Microsoft technology as well?? If so, Formula 1 races will be much more fun to watch( evil smile ).

Re:How fitting (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715283)

Ok Ok ...i have to agree that FIAT is a very crappy car when compared to Mercedes, BMW or even VW.

Let alone Renault or Peugeot! The new Peugeot 1007 mini-MPV is far more interesting a vehicle than the Fiat Idea.

(Which does remind me--how come Volkswagen hasn't gotten into the mini-MPV category? The new Opel Meriva now sold in your country is a very nice vehicle, unless VW wants to stand on the laurels of the Touran....)

What a team! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714956)


I can only imagine the synergy between these titans of reliability.

msblast! Sasser! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714959)

Warning: this car will shut down in 60 seconds because service xxxx has failed. Please pull off to the side of the road before this time, or you will lose all control.

Obligatory (3, Funny)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714961)

FIAT was "Fix It Again, Tony"

Will they change it to RIAT? Reboot it again, Tony...

Although Tony the Mechanic will have much less work to do. Hell, you can do it yourself.
Roll down all the windows, then roll them all back up. Then turn off your car, wait 2 minutes, and turn it on again. Ta-da! Your problem is fixed.

Re:Obligatory (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715176)

"FIAT was "Fix It Again, Tony"

Personally, I bought my FIAT when it was 13 years old, it's now coming up to 18, and it hasn't broken down once in that time. They may rust, but provided they're maintained properly they're pretty reliable... unlike the Rover I used to have which trashed its engine every 6,000 miles.

Interesting but offtopic aside... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715233)

Rover 827 workshop manuals specify that the timing belt needs to be changed every 32,000 miles. Honda say that Honda Accord 2.7 V6 models need the timing belt changed every 25,000 miles. Guess how many of each car you find in the scrapyards with broken timing belts?

Re:Obligatory (1)

dirtkilla (123614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715297)

I belive the King of the Hill line belongs to be slighty off-topic here.

Boomhauer to Hank
"You know what Ford stand's for? hehe, Fix it again Tony."

"That's Fiat you idiot!"

Mod me how you see fit.

Bring a whole new meaning to.. (1)

j0l (315854) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714965)

Based on Fix It Again Tony's reliability record should that now be Fix It Again Bill.

Re:Bring a whole new meaning to.. (3, Insightful)

splateagle (557203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715020)

1974 called: it wants its joke back.

seriously though (for the benefit of all you state-side /.ers) FIAT's not the company it was way back when they were selling cars over there, their output is actually pretty damned good these days, mechanically that is - this move is likely to mean really sucky in-car electronics

Re:Bring a whole new meaning to.. (1)

perly-king-69 (580000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715055)

I'm sitting opposite someone who's had both a new Fiat and Alfa in the past few years. Nothing but trouble - Fiat needed a complete respray after two years and the Alfa's door fell off (hinges failed) after a year but they didn't repair it under warranty claiming wear and tear! They're $h!t. Always have been and still are. Customer service and dealer backup leave a lot to be desired.

And they produced the Multipla. One of the ugliest cars to 'grace' our roads for many a year.

Re:Bring a whole new meaning to.. (1)

splateagle (557203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715140)

I can't speak for the person you're "sitting opposite" but I've personally owned three FIATs, and had years of trouble free motoring out of each of them... then again I also happen to like the design of the Multipla (c'mon! the title for ugliest car has to go to the Porsche Cayenne!)

ymmv.

Re:Bring a whole new meaning to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715182)

To me, a guy whose Cinquecento engine caught fire in the car park, when it was parked and I was in the building... I disagree.

Telematics? or ipod/Symbian/Palm lockout? (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714969)

You look at the story, and think 'wireless telematics? (a) why? (b) eek, scary.'

But in fact it appears this doesn't really have a lot to do with conventional auto telemetrics:

From the arcticle:

The Microsoft/Fiat system, expected to be available in vehicles next year, will be based on standard hardware and operate with Microsoft Windows Automotive software. Using the short-range digital wireless communications standard known as Bluetooth, it will allow motorists to integrate their cell phones and personal digital assistants with the onboard system.

Drivers also will be able to access digital music stored in personal electronic devices through a USB connection in the dashboard, as well as other information."

So what we have here is a way of ensuring that (presumably MS-based) music players and (presumably MS-based) PDAs will be able to link in.

It's notable that they are planning to use USB for music (so no iPods).

So in reality, not really as scary, or indeed as interesting/innovative as it could have been.

Re:Telematics? or ipod/Symbian/Palm lockout? (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715052)

Realistically, anyone who has the discerning nature of an iPod buyer is never going to buy a new Fiat anyway. Their cars are cheap junk, a Microsoft partnership seems almost a perfect match....

although given Fiat's history of electrical problems in all their modells, you'd never know for sure that it was a software fault that killed your audio feed.

This isn't something to be worried about, its just another idea we geeks should warn friends and family not to buy into. That's a geek tradition of very long standing. I dare say most readers of /. would warn against Fiat cars even without this additional extra...

Re:Telematics? or ipod/Symbian/Palm lockout? (1)

splateagle (557203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715263)

um, as an iPod owning FIAT driver I beg to differ ;p

How Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714973)

All the excellence of Microsoft's world class engineering together with FIAT's. Reliability, performance and longevity from both sides. Well done.

Fiat Auto is a company in trouble (4, Interesting)

bojanb (162938) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714984)

And not because of Microsoft (yet). The article states that they are hoping to halve their operating losses to 500 million euros this year. Which means their loss in 2003 was (gasp!) 1 billion euros. Which I guess is why Microsoft was able to 'partner' with them. Fiat gets the technology for free, and Microsoft gains an entry into the market.
And the technology is nothing revolutionary. It's basically a Bluetooth connection to "integrate cell phones and PDAs with the onboard system" (??) and an USB connection so you can play your iPod music on the car's audio system.

GM didn't make Onstar (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9714987)

Despite what you may think, Onstar is not a General Motors product. It was simply their idea, which they then outsourced to none other than Motorola. Although most people don't know it, Onstar is completely built, designed and tested by Motorola. The only part of Onstar they don't run is the call center.

A match made in heaven (1, Funny)

nusratt (751548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714995)

Considering the Italian cultural traditions of contempt for
authority and official standards, it seems like poetic justice.

OTOH, given the historical mechanical reliability of Italian mass-market cars,
the security and stability of Windows will fit right in.

btw, gives new meaning to the term "war driving"

Re:A match made in heaven (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715123)

As the Italian National Colour is BLUE(Their football team is called the Azeris (spelling probably wrong) from Azure a lovely shade of blue, then here is a real home for the BSOD. Fiats in my experience are about as reliable as Windows. As I have said for many years, if MicroSoft made card then they would have been sued out of business due to product defects years ago. Now there might be a chance...

What under the hood? (1)

startxxx (733595) | more than 10 years ago | (#9714997)

I can already see the technician telling "Sir, we can not fix that, call microsoft plese if you want to activate your car".

Old Joke about what FIAT stands for: (1)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715003)

"Fix It Again Tony!"

"Patch it again Tony" just isn't the same, and the company is unlike to rename itself "PIAT". "Reboot it again Tony" might work though.

In any event the original joke depends massively on your mechanics name being Tony. A huge comedic train wreck occurs when people start interjecting "...but Tony is my uncle, and he works in insurance".

Re:Old Joke about what FIAT stands for: (0, Redundant)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715149)

>"Fix It Again Tony!"

I would like to point out, in my own defense, when I wrote that post, the identical joke that now sits above it wasn't there yet.

Slashdot should implement some kind of pessimistic locking mechanism on all the obvious puns for a given article :-)

Sure there'll be lots of jokes, but... (4, Interesting)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715008)

Look at it a different way; Microsoft is a billions of dollars a year company that wants to try out something new. They have the clout and (some might argue this) the expertise to try it.

New markets, new areas like this will have a lot of problems that need to be solved, and although we love to hate them, MS's millions being injected into this will be a good thing, make other people sit up and take notice and - most importantly - improve on it.

So now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715015)

Seeing Fiat and *crash* in the same sentence will take on an entirely different meaning.


Nice!

MS marketing = Apple marketing? (0)

v1 (525388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715016)


jebus, can't MS have ONE ORIGINAL THOUGHT? Apple partners with BMW/Voltswagon and now MS has to find a car manufacturer to partner with.

Not bashing for bashing's sake, but man, can't they just come up with SOMETHING on their own once in a while?

Re:MS marketing = Apple marketing? (3, Interesting)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715044)

jebus, can't MS have ONE ORIGINAL THOUGHT? Apple partners with BMW/Voltswagon and now MS has to find a car manufacturer to partner with. Not bashing for bashing's sake, but man, can't they just come up with SOMETHING on their own once in a while?
RTFA, they are leeching an idea, but it's not off Apple. Apple's partnership was to promote iPod music in the car. MS is leeching off GM's onstar this time...

Re:MS marketing = Apple marketing? (1)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715054)

apple-powered voltswagen!!! jebus that rules! :)

Ferrari and Formula 1 (3, Funny)

senaattori (730352) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715018)

This is good news for Formula 1 fans. Ferrari (a part of Fiat Group) is doing great in Formula 1. So great, that they have made Formula 1 very very boring for spectators. Everybody knows in advance that Ferrari wins every GP. The biggest advantage of Ferrari is its reliability. But not for long. Not after this.

Re:Ferrari and Formula 1 (3, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715156)

F1 cars don't run windows. They run very specialized very specific software that has to be inspected and approved by the FIA. I can pretty much guarantee that neither Windows or Linux will ever run on a Formula Machine.

Also, the fact that Ferrari wins every time shows how true a sport F1 is. The idea of a competition is to determine who is the best at a particular sport. But if you look at something like Baseball or Football there are too many other factors. If the best team plays the worst team the worst team might win once in awhile. But in F1 the best team wins every time. The other teams just need to get off their ass and make a decent car. Although it is kind of hard to compete with a Ferrari. That's because it's fucking FERRARI. Maybe if Lambourghini made F1 cars they could compete. Oh wait, Lambourghini's can't steer. Oh well.

Maybe they should just put 20 Ferraris out on the track and see who the best driver is...

FIAT and GM (1)

famazza (398147) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715226)

Don't forget that GM also owns a percentage of FIAT.

Now we can cite "If GM cars use windows"

here comes microsoft again. (2, Insightful)

uv_light (750273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715021)

this time, they are going to do car business. once they win the compitition, what is giong to happen, something similar to Internet Explorer? just hope they are not going to win... but I mean, with Microsoft's reputation who would want to buy the car that equiped with anything that is Microsoft? maybe I am just worrying too much.

A list of desirable exclusions (4, Informative)

syrinje (781614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715023)

Since I trust Microsoft products to function flawlesly and reliably here is a list of the functionality that I would like excluded from the purview of this telematic system -

1. ABS
2. Fuel Injection
3. Engine timing
4. Automatic Transmission (or ratios in stick models)
5. Airbag deployment
6. Cruise control
7. Door locks
And before you mod me down for being a paranoid tinfoil-hatted troll read about the Phillipine minister who was trapped in his BMW [thaivisa.com] that refused to unlock and let him out? The HAL-in-a-car was very likely a Microsoft Telematic system [microsoft.com] .

They can mess all they want with the radio - I'll be switching it off listening to my iPoD anyway :)

Re:A list of desirable exclusions (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715065)

Actually, I'd mod you down for not apparently reading the article - the system as envisaged won't be going anywhere near the critical systems you list (well, intentionally anyway). And your iPod won't plug into it.

Re:A list of desirable exclusions (2, Insightful)

syrinje (781614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715279)

I know the article said this will augment "existing audio and electronic systems" in the vehicle. I wouldnt bet a whole lot on their ability to execute to this spec without touching any of the rest of the onboard computer systems (which is usually ONE modular package sitting behind the dash or under the roof).

Interesting tid-bit: CDMA phones do play havoc with the cruise control in some cars. A car on cruise will accelarate, BY ITSELF, when the Paging message goes out to the mobile handset. Doesnt seem like all manufacturers EMI/EMC test their cars against interference from the most used frequency band. Guess what frequency Wireless LAN uses?

As for plugging in the iPoD - guess I'll just have to go out and get a pair of those darned expensive bose headphones :)

Okay. (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715028)

Why the HELL would anyone want wireless communication in his car? Even better, why the hell from Microsoft, a company known for its appaling security record? MS products on computers I can imagine. I'd rather have my PC cracked at home instead of my Fiat's internal systems cracked on the highway.

Oh my (1)

Oestergaard (3005) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715039)

Fiat and Windows.

Any one of those is a disaster in itself - now mix them and add wireless.

Uhh.... Scary.

Cars and Complexity (2, Insightful)

Advocadus Diaboli (323784) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715040)

No, I don't need a car with lots of complex things inside. I want a car that works reliable and that allows me to fix simple "bugs" by myself. But today a car mechanican needs more to be a computer operator than a wrench operator.

Every complex piece of hard or software that is not there can't break. Actually German newstickers have a story about BMW that has to call back a lot of cars to the factory because a fault in the on board electronics can cause a loss of steering or breaking power.

Now just imagine a Windows(R) powered car. In the case of a crash I don't want an stupid clip to appear and ask me if I want that the airbag is released. And a steering that reacts to spoken commands will crash very quickly when my wife is driving since she sometimes mistakes "left" and "right". :-)

Re:Cars and Complexity (2, Interesting)

Aranel (795463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715062)

In the case of a crash I don't want an stupid clip to appear and ask me if I want that the airbag is released. I've actually seen quite a few crashed Fiats (quite a few nasty ones), and I've only seen one where the airbag has actually gone off. Maybe MS might be able to do something useful and actually *make* the airbags go off when the car crashes (although knowing MS, the airbags would probably go off at will, while you are driving down the motorway)

bleh (4, Funny)

Killshot (724273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715045)

I am sick of all this crap microsoft is doing, when are they going to get their sh*t together and put out a REAL product, like some sort of breakfast cereal, with little marshmallow bill gates heads. yum

No Wonder (1)

deconvolution (715827) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715064)

Fiat has been well known about its infamous electronic design. so ...

Might not be that bad...No, really! Hear me out... (1)

TheTXLibra (781128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715067)

Since 95% of all problems on a Windows OS are fixed with a reboot, and since I'm just going to hazard a guess that their OS will have to reboot every time the car is stopped and started, then if there's a problem, it really only lasts till they park and leave the vehicle...

...of course that would be the case regardless, I suppose, but one would hope when they come back that the issue is resolved. Since most people never bother to think of rebooting, despite having tech support tell them the last 10 FREAKING TIMES THEY CALLED that they should always reboot and see if that fixed the problem, before they call, most callers just assume that we didn't mean them, we meant the other, imaginary friend on the line with us...perhaps the call monitor...yes, them...ARGH!

Anyway. The very nature of a car losing power on a consistant basis will force a reboot and probably find MS Kars to be 95% less problematic than their moron-operated desktop counterparts. (Not that all MS OS's are operated by morons, just that the morons are the ones who usually don't think to reboot)...but not that I'm bitter.

Of the 5% of remaining problems, I'd say 4% are caused by the user downloading or installing something they really shouldn't have, or they went noodling around with files or registry entries they really didn't have any business playing with. Since I seriously doubt there will be that much in-depth computing by the user while someone is in their car, that should knock that percentage down a bit too.

So yeah, there's a potential for bugs, hacking, and MS deciding to rule the world with their SKYNET controlled automobiles, but as far as the MS Computers themselves, I think we'll see a marked improvement over their desktop counterparts.

What a fun new way (1)

jetsfandb (446202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715087)

to spread viruses! Just drive around your neighborhood. Honk and wave at your neighbors with WiFi as you turn their PCs into zombie mail servers!

I have them all memorized. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715090)

If a Slashdot posting is about Microsoft I don't need to read the comments. I have them all memorized.

Apple & BMW linked up too. (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715091)

I can't believe they dared annouce this so soon after Apple's ipod your BMW [apple.com] link-up.

Apple went with a suave, sophisticated company with a reputation for engineering, quality, hi-tech but controversial design, and high prices.

Microsoft went for a monopolistic company with a reputation for bad electrics, bad security, and a history of dodgy dealings with their government.

Too.... many .... jokes....!

Fiat are dumb ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715094)

They already had a public image of "pooly designed" car ... now everybody will see them as anything but safe car ;-)

You are in the middle of the motorway, then a blue screen occurs and that stop every subsystems ... guess what : you will have to reset your machine ;-) or press CTRL+ALT+DEL :))

FIAT != Apple (1)

Huring (757464) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715100)

I've always loved Fiat + Alfa Romeo - have considered them the Apple of car manufacturers, beautiful designs, zealot users (or drivers) and not always the highest quality (in the past).

And now they go and do this??

*sigh*

Well.. at least this might make next years F1 season a bit more exciting... Might even the playing field out a bit if Ferrari are using MS tech in the pit, not even Schumi is safe!

On time? (0, Offtopic)

sporty (27564) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715101)

Cool.. maybe their flights will now be ontime. Oh wait, I thought you said liat [liatairline.com]

Re:On time? (1)

MasterOfDisaster (248401) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715158)

If it had been, wouldn't their flights be about a year late, go to a diffrent destination and offer half the in-flight perks that were prommised? We were talking about MS and Fiat here, not Apple and BMW....

blue windscreen of death? (1)

splateagle (557203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715116)

This worries me - I really like FIATs and to date I've never owned or wanted to own a car built by another company - I've driven plenty, I just keep coming back to FIAT, partly because (in my personal experience) they're very reliable.

At this point those of you laughing and rushing to regurgite the "Fix It Again Tony" quips from the 70s might want to check your facts against the reliability index [reliabilityindex.co.uk] for some of the company's recent models - as an individual model my current car [reliabilityindex.co.uk] (built in 2001) scores better than the any of the over all makes in the top ten list [reliabilityindex.co.uk] - the (mis)perception of FIATs as unreliable simply doesn't match up with the records of their current cars.

Integrating my consumer electronics (cell phone, iPod, PDA etc) with my car is something I'm really keen on, but my experience of Microsoft products makes me deeply sceptical of this alliance. As someone else pointed out, it probably owes more to FIAT's financial woes and M$'s deep pockets than the merits of their system... here's hoping it remains a cost option I can avoid and that a decent 3rd party alternative surfaces before I next change my car.

Fix it Again... (0, Redundant)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715141)

Man, this Tony fellow better start learning out to BSOD's quick. Pretty soon, it'll be "Format it again, Tony"...

Car Activation! (4, Funny)

hotbutteredhtml (613549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715142)

So does the car cease to function after 30 days if you fail to activate it?

CowboyNeal is an idiot. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715183)

Never mind that residual mercury levels are so high in Michigan that it's now unsafe to eat any fish one may catch. Thank you ever so much, Bush adminstration.

CowboyNeal is an idiot.

Glad I'm in the USA! (1)

slasher999 (513533) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715197)

Fiat doesn't market their products here any more! Before seeing this article I always thought they had gone out of business about 20 years ago!

I WON'T buy a Fiat because of it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9715207)

Let the market speak.

A work colleague put it best... (1, Redundant)

Chrimble (7748) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715208)

"Just imagine the synergy between these titans of reliability!"

Drivers (1)

wellard1981 (699843) | more than 10 years ago | (#9715248)

Do the drivers of these cars need to be digitally signed by Microsoft?
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