Not content with running your computer (Windows), your home (Xbox), your PDA (Windows Mobile), and your office (Office), Microsoft is now making a play for your car with the help of a new software system called Sync. It’s designed to integrate your car’s communications and entertainment systems with a host of external devices such as music players, PDAs and mobile phones.

Sync will allow you to connect devices using a Bluetooth or USB connection. Apple’s dominance of the MP3 player market is so great that even Microsoft can’t ignore iPod compatibility as part of the Sync system. Additionally, the system is also user-upgradable, with the idea being that new features can be added with a simple software update.

Sync will debut this calendar year on the 2008 Ford Focus, Fusion, Five Hundred, Edge, Freestyle, Explorer and Sport Trac; Mercury Milan, Montego and Mountaineer; and Lincoln MKX and MKZ. The technology will be on all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles in the near future.

Click ahead for a list of features you’ll be able to use inside Sync.

Sync Features:

* Voice-activated, hands-free calling: Simply press the “Push to Talk” button on the steering wheel, and then say the name of the person you wish to call. Sync will automatically connect with the names in the mobile phone’s contact list.

* Uninterrupted connections: No need to hang up in the middle of a cell phone call as you enter your vehicle. Simply touch the Telephone Button on the steering wheel, and Sync will instantly connect to a Bluetooth phone.

* Audible text messages: Sync will convert text messages from your phone to audio and read it out loud. The system is even smart enough to translate such commonly used text messaging expressions as “LOL” and J. You can choose to reply from any of 20 predefined responses.

* Advanced calling features: Sync includes the same features offered on mobile phones, including caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, a list of contacts, a signal strength icon, and a phone battery charge icon – all conveniently located on the radio’s display screen.

* Voice-activated music: Browse the music collection on your digital media player, mobile phone or USB drive by genre, album, artist and song title using simple voice commands, such as “Play genre Rock,” “Play ,” or “Play Track .”

* Instant voice recognition: Sync’s advanced voice recognition technology means when you’re ready to use your phone or digital music player, just speak simple voice commands.

* Ring tone support: For supported phones, Sync will play personal ring tones. If you’ve configured unique ring tones to identify specific callers, Sync will automatically play those, too.

* Automatic phonebook transfer: Sync will automatically and wirelessly transfer all the names and numbers in a mobile phonebook.

* Multilingual intelligence: Sync is fluent in English, French and Spanish.