WSJ: Microsoft, Ford To Announce Partnership

American auto maker Ford is hoping an agreement with Microsoft to outfit its entire fleet of vehicles with computer and Bluetooth technology will help to turn around the company's fortunes. The announcement is expected to be made in January.

The system will be called "Sync," and will eventually be offered as an option on all Ford vehicles. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, car owners will be able to use the system to place hands-free cell phone calls or transfer information wirelessly, such as music or e-mail.

When the system is offered, it would likely be the first to do so within the United States. Those outside of the US can already get similar functionality through cars sold by Italian auto marker Fiat. Microsoft has already been offering its automobile operating system for some time now, however this agreement will be the biggest yet.

Two models will be shipped next year with the option, the Ford Focus and more upscale Five Hundred sedan. By 2008, the entire line of cars will have the option, WSJ reports. From there, the company's Lincoln and Mercury lines will be outfitted with the technology.

Although the exact date of the launch is not yet known, it is expected to come as a join announcement both at the Consumer Electronics Show and at the Detroit Auto Show, both occurring during the second week of January.

Both Ford and Microsoft have declined to discuss the matter, although Microsoft has confirmed that it was working on technologies with the automaker and would be making an announcement at the two conferences.

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