An interesting press release out yesterday announced a new strategic partnership between Microsoft and Toyota using the Windows Azure cloud platform for next generation telematics services. Telematics is the fusion of telecom and information technologies in vehicles, including GPS, energy management and more.

The most interesting part of this announcement for the worldwide power and utility community is the fact that Microsoft and Toyota will develop and deploy telematics applications in Toyota’s electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012. This will undoubtedly add to those vehicles growing popularity and increase utility worries about being able to power millions of new electric vehicles on the grid reliably.

Regardless of the growing pains, telematics is certainly the trend of the future, whether they are in electric or fossil fuel vehicles.  Microsoft has a long history of delivering platforms and services to the automotive market, including in-car infotainment systems built on Windows Embedded Automotive, in-car mapping services with Bing and TellMe, and many other consumer solutions. This announcement today builds on that tradition and shows that Microsoft continues to lead the way to cloud computing and connected device experiences with a unique combination of expertise, an unrivaled ecosystem of partners and the only cloud computing solutions that span the platform, application and infrastructure layers, giving customers the ability to reap the benefits of the cloud on their terms.

If you read the press release you can see Toyota’s vision of linking people, automobiles and homes for integrated control of energy consumption you can easily see how utilities can become part of this information value chain to help manage the grid reliably and provide consumers with the charging services they need. We will be working with our partners on making that a reality for utilities.  – Jon C. Arnold