MILAN -- Surfing the Web while in a car might not seem the easiest thing to do but Italian carmaker Fiat and software giant Microsoft say they plan to make it an everyday reality.
The two companies said on Thursday they had signed a long-term strategic partnership to make the inside of a car as tech-friendly as a state-of-the-art desk with Internet, phone and digital organiser, but with no need to use your hands.
With the arrival of hands-free sets and Bluetooth wireless technology people are already used to chatting on their mobile phones from the steering wheel.
But the new Fiat-Microsoft venture aims to enable drivers to talk to a computer to surf the Web, tell the sound system to play a different song and even let a garage engineer check out the car's electronic system from afar.
More and more cars, especially at the high-end, are equipped with route mappers and even televisions.
Last month Apple Computer Inc. also unveiled an adapter enabling users of its iPod digital music player to connect them to the stereo systems in some BMW and BMW Mini Cooper cars using standard controls on the steering wheel.
While other mass automakers are stripping down electronic systems -- one of the most complex parts of a car -- Fiat said it was committed to spearheading in-car technology and the deal will likely bring such features to the average driver.
"Fiat Auto has always developed...innovative cars that are affordable to everyone," Pieter Knook of Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices unit said in a statement.
"We are very enthusiastic about working with them and giving people the best and yet most practical solutions...giving them a more pleasant and safer experience".