Don't expect a self-driving car from Microsoft

While its fellow tech giants work on autonomous, self-driving cars, Microsoft has opted out of a similar pursuit and instead is taking a strategy of working with car makers and other vendors in the market.

 Peggy Johnson, the head of business development for the company, made these comments at the Converge technology conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong Friday. She had been asked about whether Microsoft would follow in Google and Apple's footsteps in making self-driving cars. In the case of Google, that project is well-known. In the case of Apple, it's all rumor.

 Back in January at CES, Microsoft announced it had partnered with a number of car makers to develop technologies for self-driving cars, including IAV and Volvo. It showed off how Microsoft Band, the wearable device for monitoring your health, could be used to issue voice commands to a car.

 According to the Wall Street Journal, Johnson told the conference Microsoft has asked various auto makers what kind of technological applications they are looking for, ranging from Windows to Azure to Office 365. Why in the world someone would want Excel in their car? She had an answer for that.

 "You’re sitting in the car for many, many minutes a day. Can that be part of your new office, can it be your new desk, a place where you actually get work done? We believe it can. Each of them had a little something different that they wanted," she said.

 As if there aren't enough accidents from driving while texting. Now driving while using Excel?

 Johnson said car makers are "all looking to differentiate in the space," and added that auto makers "generally will come to us with a specific focus." That included interest in productivity apps. All told, she said Microsoft is having discussions with "about seven or eight different auto makers and tier one vendors to the auto community" about potential applications.

 But Microsoft is not taking an active role. She said when these features show up is up to car markers because they are doing "the heavy lifting."

 Sounds like in this case, Microsoft wants to stay out of this hardware business.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10