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Microsoft Developing iPod, iTMS Competitor 304

Posted by Zonk
from the head-to-head dept.
Software writes "Reuters reports that Microsoft is developing an iPod and iTunes Music Store competitor. Few details are available, but it's known that Robbie Bach (the man behind the Xbox) is heading up the project." From the article: "Most iTunes rivals charge monthly fees to access a catalog of entertainment, but some allow consumers to buy individual songs for about $1 each. Microsoft's service will emphasize the pay-per-download, or a la carte, model, the sources said. A subscription component will also be offered, according to early accounts of the planned service. One source, who has seen a demonstration of the service, said it was an improvement over iTunes."
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Microsoft Developing iPod, iTMS Competitor

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  • by Osrin (599427) * on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:55PM (#15551548) Homepage
    All a new commer has to do is to talk Apple's customers into give up their iPods and around $2bn of purchased content, after that they can sell on the basis of better devices and new sales/subscription models.
    • by grahamsz (150076) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:05PM (#15551625) Homepage Journal
      However any music store that intends to compete with itms is going to have to support the iPod - there are just too many ipods aren't to try and do anything else.

      So if ms did support both the iPOD and their on Plays4Sure players, then i think they would stand a good chance to uprooting Apple. Especially considering they can run the store at a loss for years.
      • So if ms did support both the iPOD and their on Plays4Sure players, then i think they would stand a good chance to uprooting Apple. Especially considering they can run the store at a loss for years.

        They have a better chance of buying Apple than they do of finding proper support for iPods without breaking the law. Which is to say, no chance at all. Real tried it, look what happened.

      • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:19PM (#15551731)
        Frankly, I'm confused why Microsoft thinks it needs to be designing a music player in the first place. This company enters so many markets for no valid reason. iTunes runs on Windows, and most iPod users are Windows users, so why is Microsoft wanting to take out a popular Windows-based service? I wonder the same about Microsoft's obsession with Google. Most Google users are browsing Google through Internet Explorer on Windows. Microsoft apparently believes that's not enough, or, more likely, Microsoft's managers are trying to please stockholders by making half-hearted attempts at every market they can.
        • by jfengel (409917) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#15551827) Homepage Journal
          Possibly just because there's money to be made. That's why they have an Xbox: if they can turn a profit on it, they will.

          But in the case of the iPod, they want to compete against it for the same reason Apple created it: to introduce people to the Macintosh. Apple doesn't turn much in the way of profit on iTMS; it's just there to drive people to the iPod. The iPod does turn a profit, a pretty good one, but more importantly it gets people used to the idea that Apple products just work.

          The iPod has astonishing market share despite the presence of cheaper, better-equipped alternatives. If people jump from Windows to Mac on the strength of that, it jepoardizes Microsoft's market share. At this point they depend vigorously on being the default OS choice. Erode their market share a little, and you open the door to eroding it a lot, as people no longer have to buy a Wintel box just to keep on the same page with their friends.

          There's also the fact that a big company can never stand still. Just producing revenue isn't enough; they have to produce more revenue. One way to do that is to diversify, especially if you can diversify and still leverage your products in other areas. MS can do that big time.

          For example, if they have a new, stronger DRM scheme (based, say, on Palladium), they may be able to get record companies to give them a price break, or even sign up those companies who don't trust Apple's FairPlay to protect their property.

          MS can leverage their OS control (to give their device a performance hack that Apple can't get). Maybe they can leverage the Xbox, perhaps a plug on the side of an Xbox for their music player, or being able to build a handheld game device leveraging both the Xbox and music player platforms.

          I don't know what they've gamed out, but basically, MS will try all of it. The downside, of course, is losing focus: it's usually better to make 1 good product than 10 shoddy ones. That's less about technology and more about management. MS thinks it has good management. On that, we'll have to see: the slips in the Vista schedule don't speak well to that.
        • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:44PM (#15551937) Homepage
          Answer: Because anything that has the potential to become a "platform" is a threat. Netscape didn't get blasted because Microsoft wanted to rake in a bunch of cash by selling browsers; it was because the browser as a concept made it conceivable that dependency on windows could be weakened

          Likewise "Search". There's quite a bit of revenue there, of course, but it wasn't until GMail, GTalk, GExcel (just kidding) popped up that MS really felt the heat from google's platform.

          No, the iPod is not a platform. But OSX is, and if there isn't a microsofty competitor to the iPod then that little device's users are eventually going to discover that Macintoshes are -- as a whole -- quite a bit better than XP boxes. (Vista I set aside for the time being)

          Just thinking aloud here.

        • WMA. Microsoft wants its media formats to become the industry standards. DRM and media formats are huge levers into new markets and strong anchors for desktop market. If the ipod supported WMA I would expect MS would be perfectly fine with letting Apple have the entire WMA Player hardware market. I think it is FairPlay that concerns them most.
        • "Frankly, I'm confused why Microsoft thinks it needs to be designing a music player in the first place. This company enters so many markets for no valid reason."

          No valid reason that you can think of.

          Microsoft have spent the last 30 years making billions off the Windows Tax [wikipedia.org]. Virtually none of their product lines outside of their Windows & Office products have ever made them any money. Were Linux with Open Office to really take off for example they would find themselves in a great deal of trouble. MS exe
      • by NtroP (649992) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:37PM (#15551860)

        One way MS could "support the iPod" would be to release their own, replacement, OS for it that incorporates support for PlaysForSure(tm). When you connect your iPod to Vista it would ask you if you would like to configure your iPod to use music from MSSuperMusicStore(tm), and would flash your iPod with their OS.

        There are already replacement OSes for the iPod running Linux, it wouldn't be difficult for MS to make a WinCE-based OS that supported their DRM, etc. I don't know that Apple would have any chance or recourse then...

      • The AAC lock-in is the only thing I hate about my iPod. It's supposedly possible to play AAC's on Linux, but I haven't been able to get it to work, even after downloading gtkpod, faac, faad, xine, amarok1.4, etc. And you're right that AAC lock-in makes 'plays for sure' a joke.

        Not that microsoft lock-in'd be any better, but what if Microsoft were to write a utility to seemlessly convert and/or copy your exisiting iTunes library from AAC (including DRM-AAC) to WMA?

        That might work for Microsoft. Of course,
        • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:57PM (#15552050) Homepage Journal
          The AAC lock-in is the only thing I hate about my iPod. It's supposedly possible to play AAC's on Linux, but I haven't been able to get it to work, even after downloading gtkpod, faac, faad, xine, amarok1.4, etc. And you're right that AAC lock-in makes 'plays for sure' a joke.

          Not that microsoft lock-in'd be any better, but what if Microsoft were to write a utility to seemlessly convert and/or copy your exisiting iTunes library from AAC (including DRM-AAC) to WMA?


          DRM laden AAC is no different form DRM laden WMA, except for the base file format. Each can exist in a form which has no DRM, but the people selling you the music, such as iTMS add it there. If you can remove the DRM appended onto the AAC file then it should play anywhere. Don't forget AAC ( Advanced Audo Coding) is the audio encoding format that is part of MP4, and the licensor is Dolby.

          For a given bit rate AAC is actually superior to MP3. I have AACs encoded with iTunes (not iTMS) that play quite happily with Winamp. I won't tell you how to remove the DRM from AACs because I don't know how to, and should testify having as much issue with WMA in this form.

        • AAC is ISO MPEG 4 Advanced Audio Codec
          MP3 is ISO MPEG 1 Layer 3

          So because Linux can't play AAC, Apple is at fault? If Linux can't play MP3 files, is it also Apple's fault because Apple also provides you the option of encoding in MP3?

          And iTunes originally did support multiple hardware because the iPod wasn't released until 2001, and iTunes is at least as old as 1999. Creative's Nomad did indeed work with iTunes, and it may still if it is a mass storage device, but I don't know anyone who has tried since the
      • However any music store that intends to compete with itms is going to have to support the iPod - there are just too many ipods aren't to try and do anything else.

        iPods have a life of about 8-10 months. After that a new version of iPod comes out and makes the older ones un-cool and un-hip. There is no reason the iPod crowd won't upgrade their next iPod to a Microsoft product in the 8-10 months upgrade cycle.

    • All a new commer has to do is to talk Apple's customers into give up their iPods and around $2bn of purchased content, after that they can sell on the basis of better devices and new sales/subscription models.

      Or, they could mount a legal challenge [bloomberg.com] to gain access to Apple's DRM, so you could buy songs at the Microsoft store and put them on your iPod, or buy songs at iTunes and put them on your Microsoft player. And although I'm generally as anti-Microsoft as the next slashdotter, I'd have to take Microsof

  • by floppy ears (470810) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:58PM (#15551577) Homepage
    "One source" [cough]Robbie Bach[/cough]", who has seen a demonstration of the service, said it was an improvement over iTunes."
    • "it's known that Robbie Bach (the man behind the Xbox) is heading up the project"

      Unfortunately, there will be backwards compatibility issues with the product. While most songs should play on the devices, certain songs more than 30 years old may have problems. Rumors about the beta test suggest that the devices refuse to play ragtime, polka, and early acoustic blues.
    • "One source" [cough]Robbie Bach[/cough]", who has seen a demonstration of the service, said it was an improvement over iTunes."

      I only barely avoided spewing coffee all over the keyboard. A shame I have no mod points.

      Seriously, though. One source said it was "better." Using what criteria? Did this source see actual hardware working with actual software?

  • Vaporous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grrr (16449) <cgrrrNO@SPAMgrrr.net> on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:58PM (#15551579) Homepage Journal
    No named sources, no release date...

    Some of the devices will come preloaded with music.


    !!?

    <grrr />
    • by Alan (347)
      IIRC Apple does/did that with the U2 ipod version (4th gen?) where it came with their latest album and either all their other albums or a selection of other U2 albums pre-loaded. A cool bonus, but not something that'll give me a reason to buy something. If I'm really a U2 fan I'll have a fair selection of their music already, and unless they are better quality or lossless copies...
      • The U2 iPod doesn't actually come pre-loaded with music. It comes with a coupon to use in the iTunes Music Store in order to get the extra stuff. And they still sell a U2 iPod by the way, so "does" is the correct choice from your post.
      • The U2 iPod does not come bundled with any music. It comes with a coupon for $50 off the $200 pricetag of the Complete U2.
    • Re:Vaporous (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jwocky (900748) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:08PM (#15551651)
      Give it time. Microsoft has no focus anymore. Between operating systems, productivity software, programming environments, videogames, search, email, furniture stress testing, I'm beginning to forget what exactly Microsoft does anymore.

      They're quickly becoming the Jack of all trades, master of none.
      • Re:Vaporous (Score:3, Funny)

        by Phillup (317168)
        I'm beginning to forget what exactly Microsoft does anymore.

        They are a security company.

        You can tell by all the security patches they write...
      • Re:Vaporous (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Serapth (643581)
        LOL... you think the lack of focus is particular to Microsoft? Think again.

        Hell, look at google. They became massively successful because they were great at what they did ( search and advertising ). Now what are they doing? Lets see... getting into the email space ( gmail ), buying up calendaring software, mapping software ( Google earth ), Flikr like graphics companies ( Picasso ). On top of that, buying up dark fibre for dog knows why, as of yet. Plus they seem to be trying to push their way into
    • "Hey, mr online music seller slash music buyer! Don't be supporting iTunes just yet. Microsoft are developing a system, it's going to be really really good! You can go with trusted Microsoft products! Ignore that Apple thing for just a while longer!"

      I've made a habit of ignoring any vapourware announcements from Microsoft like this one. They really are worthless. No dates for anything, no estimates, not even a name yet!
  • Bach (Score:5, Funny)

    by jasonla (211640) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:59PM (#15551583)
    "...Robbie Bach (the man behind the Xbox) is heading up hte[sic] project." So that means the controls will be unecessariliy large?
    • Yes, but after the Japanese have a problem handling the giant control scheme, MS will revamp it as the msPod-S and people will buy new ones. Also, it means it will be built with off-the-shelf parts... so it will be the size of a large VCR -- I hear they are coupling it with a free backpack so you can easily tote it around while listening to your favorite jams. Furthermore, it comes with a warning not to drop it on small children as it can cause fatal injury. *queue more jokes on the Xbox's ridiculous siz
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by SenorAmor (719735) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:00PM (#15551590)
    One source, who has seen a demonstration of the service, said it was an improvement over iTunes.

    Gee, I wonder if that source was an Apple rep.
  • OK... but why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abscissa (136568) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:00PM (#15551592)
    Now that the market is almost saturated... why would I bother to switch from iTunes and my video ipod (which I just bought with my Macbook Pro) to an MS service? Are they going to seriously undercut prices? No.

    Does anyone seriously disagree with me that Windows Media Player is a bloated piece of shit? Ever since like.. version... 6.4? MS has been trying to add every possible little thing to it... they are trying to make it so that it is the ONLY program you will ever need to run on your PC... personally I am all for decentralization but I realise there are some users who want to open up one program and then start typing an e-mail and buy movie tickets within the same app (a few years off in WMP)...
    • Microsoft would most likely use Windows Media Player (or something similar) to manage this device. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Microsoft stop production of WMP for OS X?
      • Re:OK... but why (Score:4, Informative)

        by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:14PM (#15551700)
        Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Microsoft stop production of WMP for OS X?

        Correct. They (MS) now endorse a 3rd-party plugin for Mac called Flip4Mac that makes a QuickTime wrapper for Windows Media content. It works.. ok.

        • Correct. They (MS) now endorse a 3rd-party plugin for Mac called Flip4Mac that makes a QuickTime wrapper for Windows Media content. It works.. ok.
          Oh, that thing that crashes Safari on my iBook. Okay. Gotcha.
        • Re:OK... but why (Score:2, Informative)

          by mah! (121197)
          (MS) now endorse a 3rd-party plugin for Mac called Flip4Mac that makes a QuickTime wrapper for Windows Media content. It works.. ok.


          They probably sponsor Flip4Mac to distribute it (it's not a QT wrapper, it's a codec) for free. However, Flip4Mac does not support all Windows Media content. Specifically, no protected content at all, and very spotty performance on high-bandwidth video. Furthermore, Flip4Mac is an even worse resource hog than WMP for Mac OS X was.

        • FFMPEG (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ink (4325)
          Yes, it does work OK.

          But ffpmeg (MPlayer/VLC) work much better. As more folks start using MPlayer/VLC to watch media, there will be less need for the WMV (and QuickTime) proprietary protocols.

          So, they can ignore the Macintosh at their own peril.

    • by mjmalone (677326) * on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:07PM (#15551639) Homepage
      there are some users who want to open up one program and then start typing an e-mail and buy movie tickets within the same app (a few years off in WMP)...

      Isn't there a name for software that is intended to manage the various tasks that a user is performing on a computer..? I know there's a name for software like that...
    • but I realise there are some users who want to open up one program and then start typing an e-mail and buy movie tickets within the same app (a few years off in WMP)...
      You mean like a browser?
    • Re:OK... but why (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tx (96709) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:17PM (#15551727) Journal
      Remember when Microsoft entered the handheld market, and everyone said "oh, Windows CE suck" "why should I give up my palm" etc etc? Now Microsoft rule that market.

      See, Microsoft don't need you to give up your iPod. They do know how to play the long game. It took them a while to get Pocket PC somewhat right (then they broke it again, but that's another story), but they got there in the end. Moreover, they used the integration with Windows/Office as a selling point (WMP is on every Windows PC, you can see where that analogy leads).

      Point is, they don't need this to be an instant success, they just need a foot in the door, the rest is down to time.
    • Oh no, not again! (Score:4, Informative)

      by norminator (784674) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:20PM (#15551754)
      The way I remember things, in WMP version something or other, MS included support for a few stores, but defaulted to Napster. Sortly after that, didn't Microsoft try an MSN music store, suddenly making that the default over the 3rd party stores in WMP? Then there's a bunch of news about this MS/MTV Urge online music store, I wasn't sure where that leaves the MSN service. It sounds like they're grasping at straws, trying the same things over and over again.

      I agree about WMP being lousy... I've tried to use it do sync music with my small (256MB) mp3 player. It's incredibly frustrating to try and get your music ready to copy to the mp3 player. I never use WMP to transfer my music now, I just do it through Explorer, or on Linux, but then I don't have control over the overall order of music. It seems that music within a single folder gets played all together and in the intended order, but I don't know what order the folders will be played. On my sister's non-iPod mp3 player, she can't make the music play in the order she wants, even if she creates a playlist in WMP, and syncs based on that. I never used to understand why non-Apple products don't get as much attention as iPod/iTMS (it seems like a simple thing to copy music to an mp3 player, how bad could everyone be screwing it up?), but now that I have one of the non-Apple players, I can see what a frustrating experience it can be.

      I'm not really expecting a brilliant turnaround in Microsoft's next attempt at doing the same thing, the same way, all over again... (what was Benjamin Franklin's definition of insanity, again?)
    • personally I am all for decentralization but I realise there are some users who want to open up one program and then start typing an e-mail and buy movie tickets within the same app (a few years off in WMP)

      I could already open up 1 program and start typing an e-mail and buy movie tickets within the same app - Firefox. I could also listen to music [pandora.com] and run calendar [google.com] and spreadsheets [google.com] and look at my pictures [flickr.com] and read news [slashdot.org]. Lots of people are trying to make it so that you only ever need one program to run on your
    • Since Windows Media Player has a web-browser control built in, there is no reason you couldn't do that now, except that as far as I know non of the store that are in by default sell movie tickets (you can buy/rent DVD's though)

      Should there only be one way to do things?, should you be unable to type numerals in Word, since that's what Excel is for? what if an online radio station is playing a song from a soundtrack of a current movie, shouldn't you be able to click a few links to get tickets?

      But I wouldn't w
    • It doesn't do everything - it doesn't support aac, for one. Ogg would be nice too, bug aac is support by a lot of consumer devices and is more widely spread usage among Windows users. WMP isn't software I enjoy using, but with aac support I hope I could use it instead of the utter crap that is sony's disc2phone.
    • Does anyone seriously disagree with me that Windows Media Player is a bloated piece of shit? Ever since like.. version... 6.4? MS has been trying to add every possible little thing to it

      Does anyone also disagree that iTunes on windows is also bloated? The video aspect of iTunes comes from Quicktime which is needs pro version to even play full screen. Plus, quicktime itself is bloated on windows as well. Plus, they even have to make it look like a Mac application in windows further making it slower.

      ..

  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spackler (223562) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:02PM (#15551600) Journal
    This is it.
    The ipod killa.
    Pop a 40 Steve, because Bill is about to pop a cap in your lickable bar of techno soap.

    or

    2. yawn, another ipod killer story.

    Take your pick
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:03PM (#15551612) Journal
    Buying tunes through XBox live marketplace, and transferring them from the box to the player would open the door to a huge untapped group of consumers who don't have (or want) a PC, but probably have (or wouldn't mind) a game console.

    I would be shocked to find out that this isn't the route MS plans to take, the 360 being your entertainment-hub and all.

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:09PM (#15551663)
      A huge market of people who don't own a PC or Mac, but own an Xbox? That don't own a gaming PC... maybe. That don't own any PC at all? I doubt such a market even exists. On the off chance it does, its miniscule- a few thousand people. ANd of those few thousand people, how many of them have high speed internet to get on Xbox Live, yet still don't own a PC? Probably 0.
    • As the mods say it's an Interesting thought, but according to this BBC article [bbc.co.uk] there were 575 million PCs in use as of 2004, and trends indicated that there would be 1.3 billion PCs in use as of 2010. There may be a good number of XBox 360 owners that don't own PCs (actually I'm skeptical about that since HDTV and early rev console ownership would seem to indicate someone who could afford a computer...), but any way you cut it, it's not going to be the route to market dominance.
  • Easy way to win... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JayDot (920899) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:05PM (#15551623) Journal
    The easy way to win this competition, at least among the audiophiles that care, is to avoid DRM in all its manifestations for the new service. Not that it's likely, given that it's a MS service, but I speculate that doing so would gain an instant market share.
    • Considering that that would gain them a pretty small chunk of the market (the vast majority of users don't care or know about DRM) and lose them the cooperation of the recording industry, I don't think they'll go for this.
  • Didn't I read a while ago about how they were doing this?
  • Innovation! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by twosmokes (704364)
    It's always great to see MS on the cutting edge of consumer trends. Where do they come up with these wildly original ideas?
    • It's always great to see MS on the cutting edge of consumer trends. Where do they come up with these wildly original ideas?
      It's called the "Copy & Paste" technique.
  • Won't work. (Score:4, Informative)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) <mark@nOspam.seventhcycle.net> on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:08PM (#15551650) Homepage
    I can only see this working along with Microsoft's monopolist strategy:
    1. Bundle this itunes clone in with windows vista
    2. Have free music available from new artists for download (myspace style) through the service along with paid songs
    3. Make sure the device they have under development is as easy to use as the ipod, and that their ad campaign makes them as stylish and trendy
    4. Find a way to grandfather in support for the ipod for people who have ipod hardware already, but wouldn't mind transitioning software, not hardware

    The odds of Microsoft successfully pulling this off successfully are practically zero. One of these key components are bound not to show up, so I imagine people will have a copy itunes installed on their machine along with whatever Microsoft has.

  • I thought Microsoft partnered up with MTV to make Urge. Are they going to have multiple subscription services? If so, will customers have to pay $5/mo or whatever for each? Or will one payment grant you access to the "Microsoft Music Network" that has Urge, Splurge, and whatever other music store they come up with in the future?
  • by chill (34294) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:10PM (#15551669) Journal
    Is it just me, or does it look like ever since Steve Ballmer took over the reigns Microsoft's business plan can be summed up as "Whatever Google/Apple is doing, we're gonna compete with that."?

      -Charles
    • 'Is it just me, or does it look like ever since Steve Ballmer took over the reigns Microsoft's business plan can be summed up as "Whatever Google/Apple is doing, we're gonna compete with that."?'

      It's a winning strategy, and has proven effective on all levels of the food chain. It's called scavenging. Example: lions use tremendous cunning and skill to trap and kill their prey. Some are injured or killed in the process, but the risk is worth it.

      Hyenas, on the other hand, simply follow the lions.

  • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:11PM (#15551680)
    Come on, don't they make this announcement every second week?
  • Too bad it isn't the good ole days when the hint of a future MS product could freeze competitor's sales. Old habits die hard I guess.
  • by GregChant (305127) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:13PM (#15551696)
    No wireless. Less space than an iPod. Lame.
  • by BRSQUIRRL (69271) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:19PM (#15551734)
    ...called URGE [wikipedia.org]. I'm confused.
  • This has to be... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:20PM (#15551751)
    ... one of the most arrogant comments I've ever seen out of a Microsoft shill, and we've all seen our share:

    "They have been developing technologies that have really good music discovery and community," another source said. "iTunes is the 7-11 (of music stores). You don't hang out there."

    They have got to be kidding. People spend hours sifting through iTMS. I know people who never close it!

    iTMS is like Amazon, people just use it for basic music reference at this point. These people are on crack.

  • The Xpod (Score:3, Funny)

    by NoScreenNamesLeft (958015) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:21PM (#15551756) Homepage
    The Xpod [uncyclopedia.org]
    I can see it now - cheap, overhyped, and bsoding.
  • I can see it now. Microsoft conincides the release of this device with U2's next album. U2 does a commercial for Microsoft dancing and counting to fourteen in a foreign language. But get this... He skips 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 and 13! Genuis! The next day at work, all anyone can talk about is how much of a fucking idiot Bono is, in that new Microsoft [insert trendy name, like Origami. It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to sound cool] commercial. Hate for Bono drives sales.
  • by LihTox (754597) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:29PM (#15551808)
    ...today Microsoft announced their plans to open a chain of discount retail stores to compete with companies like WalMart and Target. Tentatively called "WinMart", the new stores will carry a large assortment of grocery, clothing, and electronics items, including all the latest Microsoft software releases. "Businesses have to expand to survive," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "As we already control the operating system and productivity markets, we felt a need to expand into a completely unrelated field. Plus, WalMart seems to be very successful; we'd like to put them out of business as we have done to so many other successful companies in the past."

    Microsoft will seek to promote synergy between their software and retail arms. "Using a complex algorithm, our exciting new operating system Vista will be able to learn all about its users tastes and habits, through analysis of their websurfing and other computer activities. We can then send our customers personalized circulars containing exciting and valuable coupons for the things they need to buy most. Plus, if they have a webcam connected to their computer, we will be able to store their likeness in our centralized database, and store greeters will be able to welcome them by name as they enter the store."....

    (OK, enough of that. :)
  • by tedpearson (910434) on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:29PM (#15551813)
    This article is such a troll. And why even mention that ONE SOURCE says it's better than iTunes, if you don't have any details? It's just a troll for responses, and I've been trolled. I must be new here...
  • "Microsoft Developing iPod, iTMS Competitor"

    lol again?
  • Ah yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chicane-UK (455253) <chicane-uk@ntlwo[ ].com ['rld' in gap]> on Friday June 16, 2006 @05:49PM (#15551974) Homepage
    That will be another Microsoft 'innovation' there then.

    If this takes any significant market share of iTunes / iPod, I will eat my hat. At the end of the day, it has to be more than 'an improvement' over iTunes - we all know how quickly Apple can roll out big changes to their products, and all it takes is one or two small updates to put Apple back on top IF do release a product which is better.. but (and lets be honest about this) I really doubt they will.
  • weird.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seven of five (578993) on Friday June 16, 2006 @06:20PM (#15552195) Homepage
    MS has been rumored to be fiddling around with selling music for years.

    There ain't no money in it... Apple sells music at a loss to encourage sales of ipods.

    The "wildly successful" xbox also sells at a loss (correct me if I'm mistaken).

    So, unless they're determined to burn thru all their cash, what does this mean, if not a perpetuation of overpriced OS & apps to pay for the other stuff?
  • Microsoft Service (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qazwart (261667) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:10PM (#15552450) Homepage
    What they'll produce is a second rate player and service. It will attempt to be all things to all record companies and not be all that great a service. What you have to understand is how much Apple pushed the music companies in order to get them to support ITMS.

    Remember the major record producers originally had their own "stores". They charged a monthly fee, charged for downloading, and then your music couldn't be transfered to other devices and would expire after two or three months. For some strange reason, it wasn't very popular.

    Remember that iTunes and the iPod came out before the ITMS. Apple used it as a demonstration on how popular an MP3 player could be, and how easy it was to copy songs from CDs and share them with friends. There was *no* DRM on the original iPods. Jobs turned around and negotiated the store. He insisted that they sell all music for the same price, that the music wouldn't expire, and that users would have some means of sharing it. In return, Apple created FairPlay which made the record executives a bit less nervious about selling electronically.

    Apple also made ITMS "Mac Only" as a demonstration product. This way, the music executives could see how it might actually be good for the industry. Once they were satisfied about the security and sales, they allowed Apple to ship the Windows version of iTunes.

    Apple recently again did battle against the record industry. Remember a few months ago that the industry wanted to do away with "one price" pricing? Apple insisted that 1). All music would be the same price, and 2). That it would remain under a dollar.

    Does Apple do this because they love us? Nope, it's because Jobs has a clue of what people want, and has a vision how things should be done.

    Microsoft will simply try to overload the player with features, then use its Windows monopoly to push it upon the market. All PCs will come with the software, and the service. If you put in a CD, the service will be the default way it will play. The Microsoft designed music players will be unhappy on any machine, but Windows, and will insist upon Windows Vista. They'll come up with the service specs, and will design, but not necessarily produce the system. They will put pressure upon their "business partners" to produce the players, and to bundle them with their PCs. You will get the Microsoft approved device and you will love it.

    This is a bit old, but explains why Microsoft couldn't make an iPod: .
  • by JohnsonWax (195390) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:58PM (#15552637)
    Apple now has it sewn up due not to iTMS or Fairplay but to that little connector on the bottom. Unless MS has that same little connector, they're fucked. Everyone with that iPod connector in their car, stereo, etc. won't buy in and it'll take ages for the market to come around to MS. Apple surely has a response to MS as well. We know that they've got the subscription service primed if they need to deploy. There's a new generation of iPods coming. There's video build-out still taking place. I just don't see how MS can jump ahead of all of that.
  • by mpaque (655244) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:07PM (#15552671)
    This should go over well with all those companies that hitched their wagon to Microsoft's star and licensed Windows Media DRM 10, then came back for more licensing and test fees for PlaysForSure.

    I'l sure they'll all understand that they were really just preparing a market for Microsoft, and will quietly close up shop. Certainly, none of these companies such as Creative Labs has ever shown any tendency to cause trouble or litigate. I'm sure they can all simply rely on the US Justice Department's oversight and Microsoft's honoring the DOJ settlement and consent decree to ensure that Microsoft won't try to extend it's monopoly here.
  • by 808140 (808140) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:07PM (#15552672)
    I'm noticing this a lot lately, but this is one of the most glaring examples. Someone out there has tagged an article in which Microsoft pledges to compete with iTMS as "fud". "FUD" is an acronym that stands for "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt" and refers to the practice of deliberately spreading misinformation about a competitor's product in order to convince customers that switching would not be beneficial. The character of said misinformation is typically the sort that inpires fear (ie, "Early adopters of the Macintosh experienced extreme losses in productivity, pushing many small business owners into bankruptcy"), uncertainty (ie, "It's not clear that switching to the Macintosh is worth the cost anyway, studies show the Mac is quite expensive and offers no tangible benefits over MS Windows"), and doubt (ie, "Company XYZ failed to lose productivity when they switched to the Mac for some tasks, their representatives said, but they didn't switch all workstations and the ones they did switch were the ones used by effeminate hello-kitty product designers who used them primarily in the design of advertisements directed at the SF Castro district community. The question you need to ask yourself is, does your company fit this particular niche for which Macintoshes are ideally suited?")

    Obviously there are probably better examples of FUD (U and D in particular overlap somewhat).

    This is rather like the lamentable practice that some losers have of abusing the moderation system to bury posts they disagree with. Troll and Flamebait do not mean I disagree, nor does Overrated. When you disagree with a post or a story, the proper response is to REPLY. Let's face it, the reason we all come to Slashdot is for the comments. The days when Slashdot was the place to get current news are long gone -- there are a host of other sites that post this stuff days earlier, fail to dupe, and care about accuracy more than sensationalism. The reason that I don't read these much (and my guess is that it's the same for 90% of the rest of Slashdot) is because regardless of how many spelling mistakes there are in the story submission here, the comments are filled with lucid and interesting analyses of anything and everything.

    I guess what this means is that you have a choice: you can either be a coward and use loaded tags or abuse the Troll/Flaimbait mods to comment, or you can actually post content that will help keep Slashdot interesting and the Slashdot masses informed.

    Despite what everyone says about "the hive mind" and "getting modded down for going against the grain", I personally have never experienced this phenomenon. Have you ever noticed that nearly every lucidly written post that goes against established mantras and includes the magic line "I'll probably be modded down for this" makes it to +5? The whiners who go on and on about how "The Slashbots are against me!@@!!11one" usually can't write worth squat and such fail to inspire any reaction other than "You're stupid" from the Moderators. It's true that the reverse is not true, which is sad: some twat who clearly didn't pass elementary school English can write "M$ is the suxor! Lin0x is the win@!!" and get to +5 if he posts early enough, but despite this unfortunate reality the truth of the matter is that you can post wildly unpopular opinions and get modded up if you phrase your ideas in an interesting, informative, and non-flamebait way.

    Since I'm going on about not abusing the tagging and moderation system, it's only appropriate that this be modded Offtopic, which it is. Mods, do your worst.
    • includes the magic line "I'll probably be modded down for this" makes it to +5?


      I noticed this as well. The sad thing is that they do get modded up when I would like to oblige them so much and mod them down for being inane or for trolling/pandering for shamelessly karma with that line.

      But then, I'll probably get modded down for this.
    • The reason you don't see articles that say "I'm probably going tobe modded down" modded down so often is because that's kind of a vaccination against the effect.

      But I've seen well-written "against the grain" articles get modded down, and I've modded a few up again.
  • by oneofabillion (939931) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:17PM (#15552709)
    is everyone here so anti-ms as to not notice that competition is GOOD for customers? ipods are EXPENSIVE and so far there is not viable competitor that could force apple to lower their prices. is ms could do that, what's not to like? why is everyone so focused on giving ms grief?
    • by MadMacSkillz (648319) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @07:57AM (#15554358) Homepage
      It's funny to use words like "competition" and "good for customers" when describing Microsoft. Microsoft has broken the law to squash competition many, many times. In fact, if you were to say "Name one technology company who has broken the law repeatedly to squash competition," anyone would answer "Microsoft." So it's rather tough for me to feel pity for them. Especially when they're already trying their typical FUD approach.

      Apple's approach is to not announce anything, let the speculation build, and then surprise people, usually with a great, well thought out product. Almost every time they release a product it has at least one feature that no one saw coming. Microsoft's approach is FUD, rushing products to market despite issues, and using their monopoly power to try to create other monopolies. Having a long run approach with an inferior product means you have to be cheaper and you have to be considered "good enough." They pulled it off with the computer because it's a big expensive purchase. It won't work with a $150 portable music device.

  • by NullProg (70833) on Friday June 16, 2006 @09:10PM (#15552941) Homepage Journal
    Customer: I made a CD of the songs I bought using the Microsoft Song Service and it won't play in my car.
    MS Support: You have to install Windows in your car to play CDs from the Mircrosoft Song Service.
    MS Support: Give us your license number so we can make sure your not a thief.
    Customer: WTF?

    Enjoy,
  • by gsfprez (27403) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @12:03AM (#15553484)
    Just so long as the Netherlands and France go after their closed source proprietary "plays for sure for the most part sometimes" DRM and ensures that its available to run on any device....

    like iPods.
  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @03:14AM (#15553956) Homepage
    People complain or at least refer to Steve Jobs' RDF, but the real RDF is the one that Microsoft surrounds itself with. The problem is, they got very, very lucky in a very big way, once, with early versions of Windows. They've cashed in on it ever since. They now think that as a company they have some sort of Midas touch, and that everything they copy will turn to gold. In a way, it does because the public are too stupid to notice that in fact what they do sucks. However, the public is slowly starting to realise that better stuff is out there, and that the way MS do business is really pretty shabby, and that they don't have to accept it. As soon as people start to say 'no' and go with any of the many viable alternatives out there, MS's RDF will collapse around their ears. I for one can't wait to see it happen, and if I'm sure I'll forgiven for a little inward smile of pleasure as it does.

    This is just one more example of MS swallowing their own hype. They think they are good at what they do but they're not - they are just aggressive, lucky and unpleasant and that's how they got to be top dog in one area for a short time. It can't and won't last. History shows that hubris rarely lasts long.

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