Microsoft Drives Insight And Innovation For The Automotive Community With Peak Performance Initiative

More Than 25 Global Auto Industry Partners Support Development of Microsoft-based Solutions to Improve Efficiency and Foster Innovation Across the Automotive Supply Chain

DEARBORN, Mich., April 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today at the Microsoft(R) Global Automotive Summit, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates teamed with Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ: MSFT) 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(R) Autos, along with its auto industry partners are delivering mission-critical solutions to the automotive industry focused on four areas: new product development performance, operational performance, supply chain performance, and sales and customer service performance.

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Based on extensive 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(R) 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 streamlined and cost-effective opportunity for the automotive community customers to take full advantage of their legacy investments. By leveraging Web services to connect key systems, customers and organizations across the automotive supply chain, the Peak Performance Initiative fosters collaboration between teams and helps remove the barriers that stifle innovation and competitiveness in the automotive community.

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 to improve insight and innovation across the automotive supply chain. 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 Microsoft Platform: Foundation for Improved Communication and Collaboration

The Microsoft platform provides a breadth of technologies that enable improved communication and collaboration across the automotive enterprise; it also offers robust security and a reliable foundation that industry partners can use to bring to market solutions that address specific industry needs.

"The automotive global supply chain is under constant pressure to drive costs out of their business while improving the overall quality of their products and customer service. Consequently, identifying and investing in technologies that improve communication and collaboration across their business to achieve these goals are of paramount importance," said John Fikany, general manager for the Automotive and Industrial Equipment Industry Solution Group at Microsoft. "Microsoft's automotive group is focused on working with its industry partner ecosystem to deliver solutions that help customers leverage their existing IT infrastructure to realize peak performance across their operational functions."

Microsoft's Peak Performance Initiative will focus on delivering solutions that address the following four key areas.

New Product Development Performance

With engineering and design teams scattered around the globe, the collaboration and free exchange of technical specifications, 3-D drawings and new product designs must be truly seamless for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to further shrink the product development cycle. Microsoft's new product development performance focus provides an important foundation that helps the automotive value chain more rapidly take ideas from the drawing board and bring them to production. For example, 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.

Operational Performance

Transforming raw plant floor information into usable intelligence is the primary goal for any plant floor manager forced to wade through thousands of machine-generated data points. Microsoft's partner solution set facilitates plant floor operations by embracing prevailing standards such as OPC to promote interoperability across the plant floor environment without lengthy implementation timetables. Managers can streamline and enable greater visibility into plant floor operations by using SQL Server 2000 to capture and store plant floor data and almost instantly transport that data to SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

Supply Chain Performance

Removing obstacles that hinder the direct flow of information gives manufacturers visibility across the supply chain and enables them to realize near-instant reconciliation of raw material and finished goods inventories, further optimizing operational efficiency. Microsoft industry partners are helping automotive manufacturers see deeper into their supply chain, leveraging the latest technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) to provide manufacturers with real-time 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.

Sales and Customer Performance

The sales and customer service performance initiative embraces the seamless communication between manufacturers, dealers and their customers by providing a flexible infrastructure with enhanced security that links manufacturers and dealers together to deliver greater value to a more demanding and informed automotive consumer. For instance, dealers using Microsoft technologies such as .NET, Windows Server 2003 and BizTalk(R) Server 2004 can quickly notify a salesperson from a dealership when a promising lead has been assigned. Likewise, ensuring that customers who buy a vehicle at a dealership return to that dealership for all their future automotive needs is critical for dealers to thrive in today's hypercompetitive automotive environment.

Microsoft in Automotive Assets

Another area where Microsoft is helping OEMs and suppliers achieve peak performance is in automotive electronics, specifically in-vehicle technologies. Today, Microsoft is announcing 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 fulfills an industry need for 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 flexible, low-cost 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 quick-to-market, low-cost 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 a flexible architecture that optimizes use of its legacy infrastructure. With a focus on established, industry-approved standards, the Peak Performance Initiative drives simplicity, consistency and true choice throughout the solutions ecosystem.

Microsoft intends to invest more than $6 billion (U.S.) in research and development (R&D) 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 R&D efforts and deciding how these efforts apply to vertical industries, such as automotive. The group is playing a key role in demonstrating how innovations based on Microsoft's current and future technologies can come together to meet evolving business needs.

About Microsoft in Automotive

Microsoft has been working with the automotive industry for more than a decade. In manufacturing, Microsoft works with industry-leading partners to develop solutions based on Microsoft technologies that enable OEMs, suppliers and customers to improve efficiency, effectiveness and knowledge across the business. Through business applications, .NET technologies and enterprise platform support, manufacturers are able to accelerate time to market, collaborate globally with engineers, reduce costs by leveraging the power of the Internet, and increase visibility into their production and supply chain processes.

From an in-vehicle technology perspective, Microsoft's Automotive Business Unit works collaboratively with the auto industry to deliver technology designed for advanced in-car information, navigation and entertainment systems. Microsoft technology is on the road today in 25 preinstalled and aftermarket devices from 13 world-class automakers and suppliers, including Acura, BMW, Citroen, Clarion, Fiat, Subaru, Honda, Hyundai, DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi, NexTech, Toyota and Volvo.

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