SEATTLE — Bill Gates has thrown his hat into the auto manufacturing ring, with the production of Microsoft’s first generation of consumer transportation devices, aptly named “MS Car, VER. 01.” The vehicles will feature internet connectivity and voice-activated controls.
Early reviews have been mixed, with criticism mainly targeted at the windows, which get stuck at high speeds, causing the vehicles to inexplicably crash. “This could happen if you open all the windows at the same time,” said Bhargav Rangarajan, a Microsoft customer service representative from New Delhi. “Drivers should try turning off various components, one-at-a-time, then restart their engines to determine if any conflicts with the air conditioner, CD player, etc., are contributing to the problem.”
If that doesn’t work, Rangarajan suggests drivers carefully back up their car to the place where it last functioned properly, and begin their journey over again.
“If nothing else seems to correct the problem,” added Rangarajan, “drivers must power down their vehicles, remove the existing windows and reinstall them.”
Rangarajan said he would be happy to stay on the line while they attempt the procedure. “If we get disconnected, they may call back on the same same 800 number, press two, six, four, three, zero, four, and any customer representative will offer them outstanding service.”
In a press release, Microsoft stated that “outstanding service” will be the cornerstone of its automobile division, as it has been with its world-renowned software.
“After many hours on the telephone, if we still cannot help the driver to get his vehicle running properly,” assured Rangarajan, “we will be happy to answer any other questions he may have.”
Originally intended for release in spring 2009, Microsoft has pushed that date back a year while engineers work around-the-clock to perfect the voice -activation control unit, which currently only recognizes commands given with an Indian accent.
Other bugs that need to be addressed include the steering wheel and braking system, which lock-up if used more than three times each during a single driving session. Microsoft says as soon as it comes up with “fixes” for these problems, they will deliver the updated components directly to registered drivers, who can install the parts themselves.
“Drivers should check the Microsoft website daily,” said Rangarajan. ” We may have an improved muffler or electronic ignition to send you that will improve the safety of your vehicle.”
On its website, Microsoft noted that many of the vehicles’ problems can be resolved by replacing an older driver with a newer one.
The cars come fully equipped with many third party accessories that will operate for thirty days, after which owners have the option to purchase them for an additional year.
“MS Car, VER. 01” may be driven only by the original owner. Separate vehicles must be purchased for each additional user. “Multi-passenger licenses” are available by calling Microsoft’s customer service 800 number.
Ask for Mr. Rangarajan.