Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) continues to muscle its way into your car.

The world's largest software company announced a strategic partnership with Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM) yesterday, hoping to raise the bar on telematics.

Starting with next year's Toyota hybrids, Microsoft's Azure cloud platform will help serve up apps to aid navigation, energy management, and other multimedia goodies.

Mr. Softy is no stranger to in-dash entertainment. It hooked up with Ford (NYSE: F) to roll out voice-activated Sync functionality a few years ago. Microsoft was also already cozy with Toyota with the introduction of Toyota's Entune multimedia system during this year's Consumer Electronics Show. Entune uses Microsoft's Bing for navigation with 16 million points of interest. Drivers can also seamlessly buy movie tickets through or make dining reservations through OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN) without ever having to take their eyes off the road.

We may have to wait until next year to see the fruits of this week's Azure-based partnership, but it's never too early to begin assessing the losers.

Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN), once again, will be raided of potential GPS gadget buyers. General Motors (NYSE: GM), hoping to push its premium OnStar telematics platform on rival automakers, is going to face an uphill road. The Microsoft-Toyota partnership's telematics product is likely to be cheaper than OnStar, if it's not offered as a freebie to move more hybrids. Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) may be at the mercy of some of the multimedia features that will be incorporated, but Sirius XM hasn't had a problem growing over the past year and a half as cars ramp up their in-dash entertainment systems.

Hitting the open road is becoming a more open-ended proposition. Investors better start brushing up on directions.

What do you think the in-dash experience will be like in a few years? Share your thoughts in the comment box below or add Microsoft to My Watchlist.