Although Microsoft is known for its software, most notably the Windows operating systems, the company is branching out into an unlikely market — electric vehicles. At this week’s New York International Auto Show, Microsoft announced a joint venture with Ford, the availability of the Microsoft Hohm service to manage the recharge process of Ford’s future electric vehicle line.

While Ford doesn’t have an electric vehicle available today, the domestic automaker has an aggressive plan that includes five new electric vehicles that will be available in North America and Europe within the next three years. The first of these vehicles will be the Transit Connect Electric van, which is scheduled to be available later this year. A Ford Focus Electric is on target for a 2011 release and then a plug-in hybrid and two next generation hybrids will be available in 2012.

Microsoft Hohm will allow owners of the Ford Focus Electric to manage the vehicle’s recharging times. The Hohm is an Internet-based system that will help owners of the Ford Focus Electric, as well as future Ford electric vehicles, to charge their vehicles at the most economic times. This will not only help the homeowner save money but it will also help power companies manage their electric grid demands as more electric vehicles come to market.

Speaking about the new partnership, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, “Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability. But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation's energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand." Source: Ford

Microsoft Hohm is a free service that is available today. The tool allows homeowners to save money by managing their monthly energy use. Although Ford is the first automaker to team up with Microsoft to utilize the Hohm technology to manage the vehicle recharging process, other automakers may sign up as their electric vehicles make it to market.