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Automotive electronic systems are changing rapidly, requiring connectivity of all types. Ford's prototype software framework lets manufacturers rapidly tailor features and handle diverse communication modes. Ford Research and Advanced Engineering is working on a software architecture that provides the layers of abstraction necessary to realize this goal. The system, vehicle consumer services interface (VCSI), offers the ability to flexibly personalize and upgrade systems with the level of security required for mobile services, as well as a plug-and-play approach to device connectivity. It uses XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to communicate with portable devices and off-board systems, providing Ford the freedom to offer the highest degree of branding and personalization possible. Ford's proprietary XML-based interface, VUML (vehicle user-interface mark-up language) separates the MI from the core application, which lets designers use many HMI component types - from knobs, switches, and buttons to touch screen displays and conversational voice-activation systems. Thus, manufacturers can offer various features and functions in their products by choosing the HMI type that best aligns with their brand attributes and their customers' preferences. Using various input methods, consumers can easily control a particular function from more than one location. The driver, for example, can use voice commands to set the vehicle's temperature, while the front-seat passenger might use a button or touch screen for the same function. VCSI is based on Java, so designers can use a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to abstract it from the platform and operating system (OS). We are currently using the QNX platform for embedded devices, but designers can implement VCSI on any platform that meets the specification and provides a JVM. With the CDC, foundation profile (one of the standard profiles for handheld devices that use Java) enables a VCSI-based solution to perform very well, providing all the desired functions and services. Ford has established a set of OS criteria that focuses on robustness and real-time execution specifications. One key element is that the OS must be able to start and stop device drivers and applications without having to reboot. This is especially important in- a vehicle because consumers need devices and off-board connectivity at different and unpredictable times.