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Microsoft signs software deal with Hyundai and Kia, opening door to music players, phones

DETROIT (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. has signed a worldwide deal with automakers Hyundai and Kia to use its in-car software that allows people to use voice commands to control personal music players and telephones.

Microsoft's exclusive, one-year agreement with Ford Motor Co. for offering Microsoft Auto in the U.S. expires in November. Ford's system, called "Sync," connects mobile phones, iPods or MP3 players to the car's audio system.

Fiat sells cars with the software outside the U.S.

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors will be entitled to sell cars equipped with Microsoft Auto around the world starting in November, but the companies are working on new capabilities and probably won't be ready this fall, said Velle Kolde, senior product manager for Microsoft Auto.

Kolde wouldn't say what types of features Hyundai and Kia may add but said the software could include navigation and an emergency call service activated when air bags inflate.

"What specific features you see will be tailored toward the types of vehicles they go into," Kolde said.

The two Asian automakers also will tailor features to geography and needs of each country where their cars are sold, he said.

Microsoft is now free to license the software to other automakers as well.

Ford's system, called "Sync," connects mobile phones, iPods or MP3 players to the car's audio system.

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Well Chrysler has their U-Connect (not as good as Sync), GM probably has developed their own system (since the 09 system does not seem to be the MS system) ... so that leaves the Japanese ...

However with Ford's and Fiat's exclusivity gone, expect the Sync to spread to Ford Europe, Ford AU, Volvo and maybe even Mazda.

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