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Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer are holding a joint press conference at 1 pm PT today. The two companies have issued a press release outlining the deal.

Microsoft’s Windows Auto software is used to power entertainment and navigation in a number of cars from Ford, Kia and others. Toyota will use Windows Azure to power a new generation of in-car systems, known in the industry as telematics.

The two sides are also playing up the energy efficiency piece of the news, noting that the electronic systems can be used to monitor energy use, in addition to traditional tasks like navigation and entertainment. As part of the deal, the companies are making a $12 million investment in a Toyota subsidiary that offers digital information systems to its car owners.

Azure-based systems are due to start showing up in Toyota electric and hybrid cars next year, with an aim to have a global system up and running by 2015.

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