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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM

CES: Ford introduces new Sync Microsoft features

LAS VEGAS — Ford opened the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show today and introduced My Ford Touch, an upgrade of Sync, its in-car Internet service with Microsoft. The technology will come with the Lincoln first, but will eventually be available in all new Ford car models.

Chief Executive Alan Mulally, former Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive, took the stage in a red sweater vest for some remarks, then he drove off the stage in a Ford.

“We appreciate how so many of you here inspired us to move at Silicon Valley speeds as we deliver the cars of tomorrow today,” Mulally said. He said Ford has made one million cars with Sync technology through May of 2009, developed in partnership with Microsoft.

The new My Ford Touch system incorporates touchscreens and 5-way navigation buttons to the steering wheel, dashboard display and center console, incorporating voice and touchscreen technology.

Drivers can control the car’s heating and cooling systems, entertainment, directions and phone from the steering wheel by voice and the center console by touch. The main display in the center console is customizable so drivers can either feature a child’s photo or a combination of music, climate and traffic information. All the lights can also be adjusted from the console. Media can be fed into the car via USB and SD card slots.

In December, Ford announced it would bring Wi-Fi connectivity to Sync, creating a hotspot in the car for up to 5 users.

Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of global product development, also talked, saying, “Every year I see people lining up at midnight to get the latest Apple iPhone or ‘Beatles Rock Band’ … We want to create that experience for a car.”

The auto maker proved itself fluent in front of a bleeding edge audience, announcing a partnership with Mapquest for in-car navigation and song tagging on HD radio and emphasizing cloud computing and social networking.

Electrical engineering director Jim Buczkowski talked up the research and development Ford put into the in-car systems. “We even looked at movies for inspiration because they drive customer opinion,” he said, citing “Minority Report,” “Wall-E,” and “Iron Man.”

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