Ask the average consumer – at least, those who follow the goings-on in the automotive industry – which carmaker they'd most closely associate Microsoft, and the answer you'd most likely get would be Ford. The Blue Oval automaker, after all, was at the forefront of bringing Microsoft technology into cars with its pioneering Sync system, and, though reality didn't turn out as such, Ford's CEO was recently touted as a potential future head of the Redmond-based software giant. But that relationship, according to the latest reports, could be coming to an end.

Alan Mullaly kiboshed the idea of leaving Dearborn for Redmond, but more importantly Ford is tipped to be ditching Microsoft in developing its next-generation Sync system. In its place, Ford is expected to partner with BlackBerry's QNX division.

Now, before you go balking "BlackBerry?! But they're finished!" consider that QNX is (or at least was) an independent entity that Research In Motion (as BlackBerry's Ontario-based parent company was then known) just happened to have bought back in 2010. QNX provides control systems to everything from nuclear power plants and UAVs to automakers like Audi, BMW and Porsche.

Ford is apparently keen to improve its in-car technology – an increasingly vital factor for new car buyers – while cutting Microsoft and its comparatively large licensing fees out of the equation.


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  • 83 Comments
      fuzzyfish6
      • 11 Months Ago
      So many comment fails here. People really need to Google QNX, see what they've done and whose systems (automotive and otherwise) are built with QNX before posting nonsensical garbage.
      007 Vodka Martini
      • 11 Months Ago
      Nice photo choice...13/14MY Fusion with a six speed manual. Very few people even know it is available. I love mine.
      SpitterGuy
      • 11 Months Ago
      Chrysler also uses the QNX system software in their UConnect which has garnered quite a bit of accolades. http://www.allpar.com/corporate/tech/uconnect.html I've been able to use both Sync (in '14 Ford Fusion) and UConnect (in '12 Dodge Journey) and I can attest to the better reliability and ease of use with the UConnect. I think this is a good move for Ford.
      brianXL
      • 11 Months Ago
      I have a 2012 Mustang and the SYNC system leaves a lot to be desired. The voice commands are not great, and it crashes regularly. The USB input is particularly bad for that.
      Ryan
      • 11 Months Ago
      I travel for work often and although I enjoy the new Ford cars, I absolutely hate the SYNC system. Im always astounded by how cumbersome and difficult SYNC is to use. Its a (very) bad tarnish on otherwise great cars.
      funguy6713
      • 11 Months Ago
      If you read the last 2 sentences in the article you will realize that Ford is ditching SYNC not because of glitches, which I suspect is due to Ford's hardware and software re-skin, but because Ford doesn't want to pay the MSFT license fee...
        Mike
        • 11 Months Ago
        @funguy6713
        You're correct. First the company Ford originally contracted to develop MyFord Touch decided to use an Adobe Flash variant on top of the Windows Embedded Automotive. Second the hardware running the system is underpowered. Combine those two things together and you have quite a mess. After two years of bug fixes and coding performance enhancements the system finally works very well. However, it's really hard to erase two years of bad PR .
      flammablewater
      • 11 Months Ago
      I've only used Sync in 2 rental Fords, and only to control my music. Both were using USB to connect my phone and voice commands to select music and it worked pretty flawlessly. SYNC could even select specific songs with voice commands which my phone normally can't do. The only issues I had with it was that in the one car with Bluetooth, pairing with my phone just would not work, and to connect it over USB, the car had to be off first to recognize it every time. I think the software was buggy in that Fiesta.
      fordskydog
      • 11 Months Ago
      Please, all automakers, use Android!! I would like to have the option to go in and do my own software thing with the hardware I bought as part of the car. I am not a fan of Apple or other proprietary systems just for the fact that they lock down what you are allowed to do with it. They control what programs you can get, what level of authority you have over your device. In my opinion, I appreciate you creating a great user experience, but it is my right to take my hardware and do with it what I want, be that installing an off-the-market app or rooting the device. There are so many cool things you can do with phones now, and most of that cool stuff centers around data. One of my favorites is Torque, which lets you place a Bluetooth adapter on your OBDII port to stream all the engine channels and get gauges, charts and stuff. Really awesome. This kind of flexibility would make any OEM in car infotainment a true winner in my book.
        Jarda
        • 11 Months Ago
        @fordskydog
        I'm "ready to be wrong" (and downvoted and accused of hating by one particular ***ard :) but I too believe Ford is making a mistake here, and will eventually switch to Android anyways... It will just cost them more money.
        stonehunte
        • 11 Months Ago
        @fordskydog
        You're being downvoted by the apple fanboys.
        John W
        • 11 Months Ago
        @fordskydog
        Not sure why you are being downvoted. An open source operating system that already exists and likely 40% of the population are already familiar with sounds great to me.
          Jake
          • 11 Months Ago
          @John W
          Or by people who don't want to have pull over and reboot their car every hour when their sloppy, bloated OS crashes?
        yonomo200
        • 11 Months Ago
        @fordskydog
        Any OS on your car is going to be locked down anyway.
      dohc73
      • 11 Months Ago
      Remember the days when cars were about transportation, and the sheer pleasure of driving?
        rsholland
        • 11 Months Ago
        @dohc73
        Still are. Get over it.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @rsholland
          [blocked]
        Card13
        • 11 Months Ago
        @dohc73
        Yea, back in the days when you weren't at the office outside of the hours of 9am and 5pm, and you came home to all the household duties completed by your stay-at-home wife. Things have changed. Commutes have gotten longer and we're required to be connected at all times just to keep up with our lives and jobs.
        Matt Mossberg
        • 11 Months Ago
        @dohc73
        Looking back at the cars of the past 30 years, it seems the majority of cars were not about the sheer pleasure of driving. Some were and there's plenty that are made today for enthusiasts like us. Companies don't make most of the cars for us, and as far as I can tell the big companies never did. We have more choices today in exactly what car we all want. Even enthusiasts have their different wants and needs. Some may only have money for one daily driver so that person would love to have a sports car that's very fun to drive but also some creature comforts. Others may only want a sports car more tuned for the track but is also street legal. Others still may want a luxury car that has the bells and whistles while also having 400hp, drive modes that drastically change the suspension and is nimble for its weight. There's cars for everyone and IMO it's only going to get better.
      Pat
      • 11 Months Ago
      Any change to Sync will be welcomed! I have Sync in my Focus and Uconnect in my Jeep... Synch drives me nuts! It's just not that intuitive. Uconnect does everything better! To prove my point ... Uconnect doesn't come with a manual ... the voice explains what to do the first time and you're good to go... Synch comes with a big manual and a rep that walks you through it's operation when you pick up your car for the first time.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Pat
        Why would this man be down-voted? He owns the damn car!
          Pat
          • 11 Months Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          Probably because a) the reader is a Ford fan-boy, b) the reader has Synch loves it, and thinks iI'm an idiot!, c) is an idiot himself, or d) all of the above!
          yonomo200
          • 11 Months Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          People like Gregarious Troll.
        fuzzyfish6
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Pat
        And what is UConnect built on? Hint: Starts with a Q, ends with an X. :P
      EvilTollMan
      • 11 Months Ago
      What the $h!t??!! This makes absolutely no sense. How about hiring your own software devs and building something from the ground up based on linux. Make it work with ALL platforms seamlessly!! I mean you're Ford for the love of god. You have enough money to do that.
        Jake
        • 11 Months Ago
        @EvilTollMan
        Which resources should a car company divert to develop all of this software? Which products that are within their core-competency should they not develop so that they can build in the in-house expertise to develop this software? Why is it a bad idea to license a product that a software company developed if they already have the expertise and experience? Why don't you write your own OS and design your own computer?
        fuzzyfish6
        • 11 Months Ago
        @EvilTollMan
        Google QNX, thanks.
      Myself
      • 11 Months Ago
      Only an idiot will deploy technology from a dying company - no guarantee of future support and then… think about patent wriggling - folks at another Canadian has been, Nortel, could tell stories.
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