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February 21, 2006

If you see an Alfa Romeo in Redmond today....

Posted by Kim Peterson at 12:13 PM

I don't quite understand the name, but Microsoft and Fiat plan next week to unveil a new in-car "infotainment" system called "Blue&Me." Microsoft is showing off the system today in an Alfa Romeo test vehicle parked at its Redmond campus.

The system, which will be offered only in Europe at first in Fiats and Alfa Romeos, offers users voice-activated operation of cellphones, portable music players and other devices. It runs on Microsoft's Windows Mobile for Automotive software platform.

The cars will have a USB port for connecting MP3 players (including iPods) and Bluetooth support for 140 or so different phones at launch. You'll even be able to operate an iPod using just your voice. There are a few other bells and whistles as well, all at a cost of $500 to $800.

Microsoft said it is talking to other car manufacturers as well. The Blue&Me system is expected to be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show on Feb. 28.

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