Microsoft and Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) announced today that together they are utilizing the Windows Azure platform to build a global platform for next-generation applications that support in-car communications, GPS and information systems - commonly known as telematics.

As part of the partnership, the two companies will participate in a 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a TMC subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers. Starting in 2012, Toyota's electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles will have newly developed telematics applications deployed on Windows Azure platform, helping expand the reach of automotive technology.  This will allow customers to control and monitor their car from anywhere, safely and conveniently.

Today's announcement is another example of the power of the cloud with the Windows Azure platform.

Later today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Toyota President Akio Toyoda will hold a videoconference at 1-2 p.m. Pacific Time. Media can register and watch the event here.

More information can be found on the Press Release or the Windows Azure blog