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In the quest to simplify your car, automakers are probably going to make life more annoying and difficult, at least for a while. At CES in Las Vegas this month, four automakers announced they're inviting speech-activated virtual assistants -- Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana -- to become your driving companion. One who might pester you to buy things, tell you you're driving the wrong way or remind you you've left your house unlocked.
Microsoft is rebooting its push to sell software for cars with a new set of programs and services in a bid to keep up with rivals such as Google and Apple that are expanding in auto technology. "We're not getting into self-driving cars ourselves but we can be an important element of it by providing the platform," said Microsoft's business development chief Peggy Johnson, in an interview. The Renault-Nissan alliance signed an agreement in September with Microsoft to work on car technology. The companies said Thursday that Renault-Nissan will be the first customer for Microsoft's Connected Vehicle Platform, which provides carmakers with a set of services built on Microsoft's Azure cloud.