Aren’t car manufacturers in the business of preventing accidents? Then a less charitable man than I would comment that Volkswagen teaming up with Microsoft is a recipe for more crashes. Boom boom. Seriously though, software giant, Microsoft’s involvement with FIAT and Ford has radically improved both car companies’ systems. As of May 2011, German car manufacturer, Volkswagen, has become the third automotive company to ally themselves with Bill Gate’s baby. Microsoft has been called to assist in the development of the in-car entertainment system. So, the next time you take advantage of car hire Europe you may wonder if you’ll find yourself looking at a familiar screen interface.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, modern consumers look for good fuel economy, something cheap to insure and something low in carbon emissions. They also look for vehicles with great infotainment systems – especially if you have kids that needs lots of distractions on a long journey.
In practical terms, however, it’s behind the scenes where the changes will have occurred. Microsoft has agreed to licence its exFAT, Extended File Allocation Table, to e.solutions, the software company that currently provides Volkswagen with its bespoke interfaces and programming.
What’s so special about exFAT? First of all, onboard memory has to be formatted in order for the car’s operating system to make use of the data stored on it; such as music files. In layman’s terms; formatting is akin to a structure of segregated bookshelves in the home and how you would arrange your books or CDs. Better structures mean finding the CD you want will be easier and if the structure is more efficient then you will be able to fit more CDs on the shelves. ExFAT is such a system: you can store more video and music files for your entertainment pleasure and access them so much more quickly – a boon as higher definition video really takes off.
For the more technically minded, exFAT removes the 4GB file limit and also supports memory space up to a whopping 512TB. Other advantages include a per-file contiguous bit for fast file access and better contiguous on-disk layout (useful for movies).
Not only is this good news for the motor industry it’s also a significant step towards the unification of car and home entertainment technology evolving together. ExFAT is also likely to be the industry standard format for all new entertainment devices. This is fantastic when you consider incompatibilities that have dogged the media software/hardware business for years.