When you think Microsoft car technology you think SYNC, right? Perfectly natural, since it's the only place Redmond's bits and bytes have made much of an impact on the automotive scene. But SYNC is just Ford's flavor of Microsoft's Windows Embedded Technologies -- naturally with plenty of customizations and functionality on top. It's not an exclusive partnership and we've known for some time now that Hyundai and Kia were next in line to get some love from Washington. Kia's time has come, with the company set to launch UVO at CES next week. The only question now is: What exactly is it?

We spoke with representatives from Microsoft and Kia on Wednesday, where they unveiled the UVO name, explained as being short for "your voice." Because of that we expect there will be a strong focus on speech recognition in this system, but beyond that it's anyone's guess what the latest automotive infotainment system will be packing -- those same representatives were tight-lipped about the details. Naturally we expect it'll be generally similar to Ford's SYNC, but Kia is a very different sort of company than the one Henry built, so surely a much fresher look and feel is in store at the very least.

Ford recently announced that it would be letting outside developers augment SYNC's functionality, and after the amazing success of Apple's App Store it'd be a shame if Kia didn't support the booming app market from the start (just think of all the telemetry systems a developer could build with access to vehicle sensor data and a three-axis accelerometer). All will be unveiled at next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Ford will be similarly showing off its latest SYNC revisions. Which infotainment system will reign supreme? We can't wait to find out.

[Source: Kia, Microsoft]

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