Ford SYNC

Ask the average consumer – at least, those who follow the goings-on in the automotive industry – which carmaker they'd most closely associate Microsoft, and the answer you'd most likely get would be Ford. The Blue Oval automaker, after all, was at the forefront of bringing Microsoft technology into cars with its pioneering Sync system, and, though reality didn't turn out as such, Ford's CEO was recently touted as a potential future head of the Redmond-based software giant. But that relationship, according to the latest reports, could be coming to an end.

Alan Mullaly kiboshed the idea of leaving Dearborn for Redmond, but more importantly Ford is tipped to be ditching Microsoft in developing its next-generation Sync system. In its place, Ford is expected to partner with BlackBerry's QNX division.

Now, before you go balking "BlackBerry?! But they're finished!" consider that QNX is (or at least was) an independent entity that Research In Motion (as BlackBerry's Ontario-based parent company was then known) just happened to have bought back in 2010. QNX provides control systems to everything from nuclear power plants and UAVs to automakers like Audi, BMW and Porsche.

Ford is apparently keen to improve its in-car technology – an increasingly vital factor for new car buyers – while cutting Microsoft and its comparatively large licensing fees out of the equation.