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Car and Driver: Harman Does the Unthinkable, Incorporates Microsoft Office Into Its Connected-Car Services

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Harman Microsoft Office 365 integration

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All the talk at CES of connected cars confabbing with connected homes and connected washing machines and the like is delivered with the same promise: that connectivity between internet-enabled devices and appliances and other aspects of our lives will improve daily life. The so-called Internet of Things will furnish a new age of stress-relieving automation, or so we’re told. Into this hopeful fray crashes audio supplier Harman, which has announced at CES that it is integrating Microsoft Office 365 into its connected-car infotainment suite. Is nothing sacred anymore?
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Harman Microsoft Office 365 integration

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While the “Internet of Things” operates in the background—by design—and does hold plenty of promise for improving daily life, sticking Microsoft Office 365 in the car does the opposite. It brings work into the car, a place that, previously (outside of phone calls) was a work-free zone. A sanctum. For car people, their car is their happy place. In Harman’s world, that may no longer be the case.

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Now, we understand that for some people, the (safe) ability to schedule meetings, be read or dictate emails, and join conference calls using popular software already deeply integrated into their lives, as well as even Skype into video conferences (while in park, Harman says), would be a boon to productivity. We aren’t those people, mostly because we enjoy our downtime/car time. Of course, the dynamic shifts ever so slightly when, as Harman does, you consider how in the not-so-distant future we may all be reduced to the meaty sausage filling inside autonomous metal casings. Then, enhanced Office 365 integration might be more fruitful to car occupants—not to mention safer to exploit—but to us that’s perhaps another demerit against the self-driving car. After all, when your mobile device, smart home, and self-driving car are all linked to the office, what time do you truly have to yourself?

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Luckily, for now, Harman has only announced its collaborative partnership with Microsoft and an intent to integrate Office 365 into its infotainment units. (A concept version of the system is on display at CES in the BMW i8–based Rinspeed Etos concept.) The 24/7 work schedule, therefore, remains some time off in the future.

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