Microsoft has revealed a number of partnership deals with mapping businesses that expands location-based services within Redmond’s product portfolio.
To this end it signed a partnership deal with TomTom to integrate location-based services into Microsoft Azure.
But Microsoft also made deal with mapping provider HERE, as well as Esri, a geographic information system (GIS) technology specialist.
The agreement with TomTom was revealed at a gathering of all three mapping specialists at the Microsoft Technology Centre in Detroit this week.
TomTom will help Redmond integrate location-based services into Microsoft Azure to make it easier and more flexible for developers to build and manage applications that are location-aware. Microsoft will utilise TomTom’s High Definition Map and RoadDNA technology for autonomous driving.
“Through our partnership with Microsoft, we can bring all our map layers to the Microsoft Azure ecosystem and foster innovation that makes people’s lives better,” Pieter Gillegot-Vergauwen, VP of TomTom product management and maps. “We’re working actively to lead the way to a future of smart mobility, smarter cities and autonomous driving.”
The second deal saw Microsoft extend its long standing collaboration with HERE to expand the use of HERE data and services into productivity scenarios in cars.
Microsoft of course already uses HERE services extensively, as its mapping app was bundled free of charge with Windows Phone handsets. But HERE is also used for Bing, Cortana, Windows and Office. And HERE also powers the Bing Maps API.
“We are entering a new era of services around connected cars in terms of safety, in-car productivity and making journeys more efficient,” said Ashish Pandya, director of corporate strategy for HERE. “We don’t think one single entity can do this by itself. It’s going to take a collaborative effort. We’re very pleased to expand the agreement we’ve had with Microsoft.”
The third and final mapping deal is with geographic information system (GIS) technology provider Esri, another longstanding partner. Redmond also deeply integrates ArcGIS products into many of its applications and services.
For example, Esri’s real-time GIS runs on Azure and can ingest any real-time, location-based data, including weather data, social media feeds, live sensor data and location services data from companies like HERE and TomTom.
Microsoft has now announced a preview of ArcGIS Maps for Power BI.
“Together with our partners, our bold ambition is to create the next ‘world graph,’ a new data index of physical places, objects and devices and their interconnectivity,” blogged Microsoft. “We believe this repository of geospatial data will be the next big concept in graph technology, which already includes well-established systems such as Bing’s knowledge graph, Facebook’s people graph and Microsoft Office’s and LinkedIn’s professional graph.”
“In the future, Microsoft wants to enable global location-based services for customers differentiated by an open platform, with large data sets and natively integrated functionality for developers, and deep integration with other data graphs for new scenarios,” the firm wrote. “We envision a platform that gives our customers choices, with many options for customization and opportunities to power smart cities, IoT and industrial transformation, from manufacturing to retail to automotive.”
It should be remembered that Microsoft retired MapPoint, its long running Windows-only mapping and navigation software, way back in 2014.