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Microsoft's car of the future [Update]

You've probably heard a lot about Google's driverless cars, but Microsoft is cooking up some cool automotive treats of their own. Kevin Dallas, the general manager of Microsoft Windows Embedded, spoke with USA Today to discuss some of their ideas.

Imagine a world where you can fold your car up when you're not using it and tuck it into a drawer, or when you can get in a little gaming while on the commute. Microsoft is working with automotive companies like Ford and BMW to make that world a reality, and they think they can get there by 2030.

Microsoft's plans for the car of the future are a lot more ambitious than anything Google has attempted, and definitely more on the conceptual side of things, and it goes way beyond driving itself.

By harnessing the power of the cloud, Dallas thinks that a car should be able to intelligently play music to suit the owner's tastes and mood, or maybe help you get in some last minute work on that report before work. Heck, why not go a step further and offer an immersive gaming experience? You're not driving, so distractions really don't matter. On the downside, though, there shouldn't be any traffic jams in this driverless future, so that means there'll be less time for gaming on the road.

Basically, your car could become a rolling 'thin client,' a cloud-connected computer capable of harnessing the power of the cloud to go far beyond the capabilities of today's smartphones or other mobile devices.

On the other hand, it's kind of hard to imagine such a model working outside of a well mapped urban environment, or alongside cars with actual drivers behind the wheel. Mixing computer systems programmed to obey every letter of the law with drivers who are capable of doing anything is a disaster waiting to happen, and in America, at least, there are still many out of the way roads, many of them not even paved.

Still, these are some pretty awesome concepts, and we can't wait to see them start to become reality. By the time they do they might not resemble what we're envisioning right now, but if one thing is for sure, that's that we'll be seeing a lot of really awesome technology coming to our cars in the near future.

What would you like to see in your next car (or the one after it)? Let us know below, and be sure to head over to our forums and join in on the discussion there.

Update 5/15/12: Representatives of the Microsoft Windows Embedded Team have been kind enough to point out to us that Kevin Dallas did not speak to USA Today at the CeBit show, but rather in a separate interview.

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