Microsoft is nothing if not persistent. It's conquered the desktop PC market, it's taken over entire living rooms with its Media Center concept, and it's now trying to take control of your cars.
The Microsoft Automotive 5.0 software platform -- designed to drive your in-car communications and entertainment system -- is cropping up in a range of Fiat vehicles under the name Blue&Me. The system allows voice activation of common functions, advanced MP3 playback from USB memory keys and digital audio players, voice-activated phone calls and -- in the case of the high-end Blue&Me Nav -- GPS.
Fiat has also announced a system known as EcoDrive, which works in conjunction with Blue&Me. This records your driving habits and shows you just how aggressive or passive you are behind the wheel. The data can then be downloaded to a PC, again via a USB key, at which point special software can give you driving tips on how to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
Blue&Me is available on the Fiat Bravo, Fiat 500 and Fiat Grande Punto for approximately £250. Blue&Me Nav will cost £300. Ecodrive is set to launch later this year. See the system in action here.
Update: You can watch a video of Blue&Me in action in our Fiat 500 video review.