Nissan’s Leaf electric car will use Microsoft’s software to power its in-car entertainment as well as a program that will calculate the location of the nearest re-charging stations. Research in Motion, the Canadian company behind the BlackBerry smartphone, bought QNX Software, a leading in-car software company, earlier this year. Thilo Koslowski, of Gartner Inc, said: “Consumers are increasingly demanding access to new multimedia content, productivity solutions, and connected services for entertainment and communication from their in-vehicle system, similar to what they expect from their other devices.”

Fiat is the only car company in Australia to use a system developed with Microsoft – Blue&Me.   Another big change will be the ability for car companies to use Microsoft’s Silverflight media player, a rival to the popular Flash player. It allows drivers to control car functions by voice. The integration of Silverlight means improved 2D and 3D graphics on car video screens. QNX already has deals with leading brands including Audi, BMW and Hyundai. Kevin Dallas, of Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business Unit, said: “Microsoft deeply understands that technology collaboration is paramount to the evolution of integrated, in-vehicle infotainment systems.”

Microsoft is not the only big-name software company to get involved in cars.

Advertisement: Story continues below

MICROSOFT could be about to invade your car. Microsoft says you will be able to send a text message from your car just by speaking. The new system can control the car’s stereo, connect music players via Bluetooth and sync with smartphones to access phone contacts and calendars. Not content with launching its latest Windows-powered smartphone, the company has launched a new assault on the software that powers your car. It can be operated either by a touchscreen or voice commands. Although the software giant already provides systems for Ford, Kia and Fiat, it wants to improve in-car connectivity with Windows Embedded Automotive 7.