GPS Navigation devices are super cool, gone are the days of needing to take a passenger with you on a road trip just so you have someone to read the map (or have someone to blame for holding the map upside down!).

Navigation devices are especially useful for the "last mile" routing - driving on major roads between cities typically isn't an issue, getting lost in an unfamiliar city, especially one with roundabouts and one-way systems is painful. Driving a vehicle with turn-by-turn voice navigation is great. GPS navigation devices are becoming smarter, and more complex (at the hardware and software level) [interestingly, keeping the user experience simple is one of the key differentiating features for GPS device manufacturers].

Devices are now shipping with integrated hands free bluetooth, and the ability to use your data connected smartphone to get current weather (why not just look out the window!), current traffic information (for dynamic routing), and in some cases local search based on your current location (finding the nearest Starbucks for example).

Just announced is Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 - this is a set of operating system components for Windows CE 5.0 that adds Local Search, Bluetooth Hands Free Profile, SideShow, and MSN Direct to the CE 5.0 Platform Builder Catalog. Adding these components to the Windows CE 5.0 catalog makes it easier for PND (Portable Navigation Device) manufacturers to bring their devices to market without needing to license and integrate 3rd party technologies/stacks onto the CE 5.0 operating system.

You may notice a number of web sites reporting Windows Embedded NavReady as "Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 GPS operating system" (Engadget), this is somewhat misleading, in much the same way as Windows Mobile is often referred to as the Windows Mobile Operating System (Wikipedia), which is also misleading - In both cases, Windows CE is the underlying operating system, Windows Mobile adds applications, user experience (shell), and some mobile specific technologies (connection manager for example), and in the case of Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 this is shipped as a set of technology add-ins for the Windows CE 5.0 catalog that add technologies that accelerate development of GPS Navigation devices.

- Mike