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Microsoft To Release 'iPod Killer' at Christmas? 614

Posted by Zonk
from the happy-holidays dept.
ShellFish writes "According to a report from Engadget, Microsoft is poised to finally take on the Apple iPod this holiday season. Tired of uninspiring offerings from its hardware partners, Microsoft is getting into the ring itself. The new media player from Microsoft will feature a bigger screen than the iPod Video, have built-in WiFi for downloading music without a PC, and Microsoft will work with music and TV content providers to build an iTunes Music Store competitor. In what may be the crucial competitive stroke, Microsoft will also allow you to download from its store any song that you've purchased from Apple, unlocking users from iPod's vendor lock-in."
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Microsoft To Release 'iPod Killer' at Christmas?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:32PM (#15670364)
    It'll be built with the reliability and simplicity you've come to expect from Microsoft.
    • It'll be built with the reliability and simplicity you've come to expect from Microsoft.

      If you want something that's built to last, get an iPod. ;)
      • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:24PM (#15670889) Homepage
        "It'll be built with the reliability and simplicity you've come to expect from Microsoft."

        If you want something that's built to last, get an iPod. ;)


        Business Students at a local university surveyed a bunch of local high schools. They found that Apple scored low on reliability. Apple also scored low on features, the kids really thought the lack of AM/FM was a negative(*). However, iPod was the most common player. Apple did win on ease of use. Many iPod owners admitted they traded functionality/reliability for "status symbol"/fashion. The kids were fairly well informed since there was a lot of comparing and contrasting of the various players they had.

        (*) I expect Apple has similar research of their own and it probably inspired the Radio Remote. I'd wager future models will have it built in.
        • Radio? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vistic (556838) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:18PM (#15671697)
          Hah... I own an iPod because I don't LIKE anything on AM/FM.
    • by ScottLindner (954299) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:38PM (#15670417)
      When they say by Christmas, do they mean RC1, RC2, SP1, SP2? :-)
    • by MarkByers (770551) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:41PM (#15670460) Homepage Journal
      Obligatory link to Microsoft designs the iPod package [google.com].
    • Unlike my iPod nano which just rebooted because I pressed 'play'.
  • by walt-sjc (145127) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:34PM (#15670381)
    I'll take a wait and see attitude before totally slamming it, but if history is a judge, ...

  • Woah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:35PM (#15670389)
    In what may be the crucial competitive stroke, Microsoft will also allow you to download from its store any song that you've purchased from Apple, unlocking users from iPod's vendor lock-in."

    I'll assume the summary leaves out the crucial word "free" in there. If so, that's pretty damn clever. I just wonder how/if MS will get the music cartels to agree to it, other than wholescale bombing of their headquarters' into submission by the Windows Air Force.
    • Re:Woah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by davecrusoe (861547) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:38PM (#15670416) Homepage
      Easy: they'll do the same thing they've done with the x-box (subsidize the music at their cost, to win market share)....
    • Re:Woah (Score:4, Insightful)

      by profet (263203) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:39PM (#15670432)
      I'll assume the summary leaves out the crucial word "free" in there. If so, that's pretty damn clever. I just wonder how/if MS will get the music cartels to agree to it, other than wholescale bombing of their headquarters' into submission by the Windows Air Force.

      Forget that, how will they enforce it?
      Violate the DMCA and try decrypting the songs?
      Hack Apple's servers for information?
    • Re:Woah (Score:4, Informative)

      by DerGeist (956018) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:39PM (#15670442)
      Actually, as reported here [engadget.com] the songs will be free to the user, with royalties being paid by Microsoft. In other words, you as the user get to move your songs over while MS re-buys them for you.

      Albeit ostensibly benevolent, keep in mind Microsoft has a habit of trying to dump loads of money to gain initial market share. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

    • Re:Woah (Score:5, Informative)

      by RealSurreal (620564) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:40PM (#15670453)
      From TFA : "They'll actually scan iTunes for purchased tracks and then automatically add those to your account. Microsoft will still have to pay the rights-holders for the songs, but they believe it'll be worth it to acquire converts to their new player."

      Personally I don't see how this will work. I can't imagine Apple being too keen on it.
      • Re:Woah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sentry21 (8183) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:38PM (#15671011) Journal
        How long until someone figures out how to script a system whereby users can go to a website, input their iTunes user/pass, and force Microsoft's service to re-sync its library (at great expense to Microsoft)? Think of it - an automated way to screw Microsoft, just by putting in your user/pass!

        Personally, I'm going to be encouraging everyone I know to sign up for the service and download the Microsoft versions of their iTunes libraries - and then cancel their subscription.
      • Your 60Gig iPod can hold 15,000 songs.
        Soo, lets say you've filled it from iTunes and say that would cost say..oooh $15k
        Ignoring for a start that nobody has ever filled an iPod with legit music, do you really think that MS is going to pay that much to help you switch?
        They've obviously done a deal with the record companies. We'll help you break Apple's virtual monopoly on downloaded music and ensure you don't lose a penny.
        Record companies allow MS to 'swap out' Fair Play tracks for Plays for Sure at zero
        • That's sort of like saying - its OK for Hitler to come into France because then we can choose between the French government and Fascism. Or how how about Stalin and Eastern Europe.

          It is a problem because:

          #1 It is Apple keeping the music prices down on downloadable stores. MS would be happy to have music go for any price the RIAA wants including tiered.

          #2 I don't use PCs. This is my choice.

          #3 MS DRM is far more ugly.

          #4 MS profits from illegally using their Windows Monopoly again.

          Now if you were to talk about
    • Re:Woah (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jtheletter (686279) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:48PM (#15670542)
      I just wonder how/if MS will get the music cartels to agree to it, other than wholescale bombing of their headquarters' into submission by the Windows Air Force.

      "Why those are some real nice computers you got there at the RIAA, running some fancy Windows OS too. Sure would be a shame if WGA suddenly listed them all as pirated...."
  • by SoCalChris (573049) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:36PM (#15670401) Journal
    Not unless it has wireless, and more space than a Nomad. Otherwise it's just lame.
    • Have you used a WiFi enabled microsoft device lately? I have. I got suckered into buying the HP iPaq 1950 with Wifi, bluetooth... etc.

      Without being long-winded, the technology just isn't there. The iPaq (with Windows Mobile 5) freezes up constantly (have to take out the battery to restart it). The handheld web browser only supports a small SMALL subset of Java (it basically has no Java support at all). In addition to that, even with the screen turned sideways, browsing the internet (especially the CSS

    • by Thrudheim (910314) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:43PM (#15671051)
      Seriously, the companies that have to be the most concerned about this announcement today have names like these: Creative, Sony, Napster, Yahoo!, MTV and Real Networks. These are all Microsoft "partners" whose business ventures are now going to have to be in direct competition with Microsoft's own player/store. Some of them have been losing money trying to compete with the iPod/iTMS, such as Creative and Napster. What are their future prospects now?

      Apple will do fine. They have dominated the mp3 business far in excess of anyone's expectations, and for far longer. Even if they fall back to a 40% market share; that will still be a large and successful business.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:36PM (#15670402) Journal
    Can I point it at someone dancing around like an idiot in public, and it explodes their ipod? I'll take two for dual wield.
  • also.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by solidtransient (883338) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:37PM (#15670403) Homepage
    But wait, there's more! Microsoft's iPod killer will also: - double as a powered beard trimmer (small fees apply per trim) - provide a conveneint space to store change (small fees apply per coin) - allow you to pause time and move really fast (small fees apply per pause) - allow you to transport from one place to another (small fees apply per transport) - melt competitor iPods within 30 feet of the device (free of charge!)
  • Wifi, larger screen, other assorted goodies... It sounds basically like a PDA geared for music play back.

    I picked up a Dell Axim x3i off EBay about half a year ago for under $200. Snagged a 1GB SD card for it a month later. And have been enjoying my play lists ever since.

    -Rick
  • by Mister_IQ (517505) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:38PM (#15670414)
    unlocking users from iPod's vendor lock-in

    ... and locking them right back in again in to Micrsoft's vendor lock-in. Brilliant.

    Next, I hope they'll let me "upgrade" all my paperbacks to MSReader encrypted format too!
    • by dirk (87083)
      ... and locking them right back in again in to Micrsoft's vendor lock-in. Brilliant.
      Yes and no. With the iPod, you are locked into the iTunes music store, but also the iPod itself. With this, you will be locked into the WMA format, but that is availble from a number of different stores. Also, you won't be locked into the MS player, as other players will play WMA files. So while you may be lcoked into the format, you aren't locked into a particular store or player. Seems like a good idea to me.
      • by fermion (181285) *
        One should be careful about these broad generalizations. With the iPod, if one chooses to use the iTunes store, one is locked into the iPod family of products. However, since music can be downloaded to any number of players, if something happens to a player, the music can be downloaded to another player. With all the changes to fairplay, this has been a constant rule. Shuffles are not even tethered to a single mac.

        What MS is doing here is the same thing it did with the PCs in the late 80s. It is brin

  • I think it is a brilliant move to allow users to download songs they've purchased from iTunes. Eventually I'd like to be able to purchase the rights to movies, music, and other copyrighted works for a fixed fee and then be able to view/listen to our purchased items from any location via streaming. If we want a physical copy, the only cost would then be the media itself and a device (or store-offered service) to burn the copyrighted material to disc. If the rest of the consumer world is anything like me, the
  • Microsoft will also allow you to download from its store any song that you've purchased from Apple, unlocking users from iPod's vendor lock-in."

    and lock you into another.... just great
  • Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ivan256 (17499)
    Microsoft's new portable audio and video player will have a screen that's "bigger than that of the iPod video" [...] and built-in WiFi


    Translation: The Microsoft device will be bigger than the iPod, and have signifigantly lower battery life.

    Of course, given that it's from Microsoft, I'm sure they'll take a cue from every other product they make, and give it a worst-in-class user interface to top things off.
  • uhh (Score:3, Informative)

    by blackmonday (607916) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:40PM (#15670452) Homepage
    In what may be the crucial competitive stroke, Microsoft will also allow you to download from its store any song that you've purchased from Apple, unlocking users from iPod's vendor lock-in.
    Hey dude! Get out of that horrible iPod prison! Check out my all-new Microsoft prison! come on in, its free to try!

    Unless Microsoft is providing DRM free files, I will stay far away from this. At least iTunes lets me burn the songs to CD as many times as I wish.

  • by ptomblin (1378) <ptomblin@xcski.com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:45PM (#15670515) Homepage Journal
    ...I'd have enough money to buy a newer iPod.
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:46PM (#15670521)
    There's no guarantee that Microsoft will be able to negotiate the same rates with the recording labels that Apple has. In fact from previous stories we know that the labels are aching to raise online prices and introduce differentiation, but were overpowered by Apple's market share. Microsoft will have a market share of 0% as they negotiate their deals--expect them to pay more per song than Apple for recent "hit" music. So the RIAA is laughing because not only are they going to get paid twice for one consumer purchase, but the second payment might actually be bigger than the first.

    Apple is laughing because Microsoft seems to have no profit foothold anywhere in the business plan. As new entrants their players will most likely have to compete on price, reducing the profit margin there. And by re-paying labels for music already purchases, they are in essence subsidizing their customers' libraries--a huge expense. Compare to Apple who commands a healthy profit on the players AND a small profit on every song sold. The only thing better than beating a competitor is making them lose a lot money and STILL get beaten.
    • Microsoft has access to %96 of all desktops in the world. Apple does not even come close though the Ipod has a nice marketshare at the current moment.

      Also Vista will come with Surge which is MTV's video/audio store with WM11. So its likely the RIAA already has a deal with Microsoft and they are sick of Apple telling them to screw themselves with price controls. With more competition it gives the RIAA leveredge because they can sell their music to Microsoft and ignore Apple if the terms are not favorable eno
      • Microsoft has access to %96 of all desktops in the world. Apple does not even come close though the Ipod has a nice marketshare at the current moment.

        Ummm...

        In terms of music players and software, Apple has access to more like 99% of desktops in the world (discounting Linux and Unix desktops). Or have you forgotten that iTunes for Windows exists? If you're going to throw meaningless numbers like that around, Apple actually comes out on top.

        Apple also is starting this "war" with around 80% market share in
    • The Long Game (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gidds (56397)
      This is one of the (few) points that really worries me. Microsoft have a huge pile of cash. And they've shown many times before that their market-entry strategy is simply to keep trying, keep pouring money in, and wear their opponents down. How long did it take before Windows was any good? IE? Word? In fact, any number of products, file format, protocols, etc.

      Of course, that's no guarantee of success. But it would be dangerous to write off a product from someone with their cash reserves, determina

    • Never underestimate MS's understanding of the bribe, they will bribe the music companies to let them sell cheaper music with a promise to institute tiered pricing once they reach a certain marketshare. They will bribe their customers by giving them cheap music at first then changing the pricing model once the customers are "hooked" (the first one is free paradigm). They will bribe the hardware manufacturers to exclusively build parts for them. And I guarantee that after installing the first SP of 2007, i
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:48PM (#15670550) Homepage Journal
    Because let's face facts that what it will be. Or more properly, a WindowsXP media edtion pocket PC that needs 1GB of RAM, an 80GB drive, 20GB of which will be the operating system? Is this really device you want?
  • Janus? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:49PM (#15670553) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has exclusively stood behind its Janus DRM in the past. It is refreshing to see that this new player will have a more open approach to music files. I have never liked the iPod; I use my Palm LifeDrive for music, video, and everything else. I do think that Microsoft might be able to take some market from Apple if they can address the biggest frustrations of iPod owners, including screen and body durability, battery life and user replacebility, etc. I have many friends in college who are very annoyed with the iPod and might be willing to switch.
  • by cyfer2000 (548592) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:51PM (#15670580) Journal
    Do I need to input password every time I
    • play a song
    • change volume
    • display lyrics
    • rank a song
    • display a piece of artwork related to the song
    • upload a song to the player
    • ...
  • by CherniyVolk (513591) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:51PM (#15670583)

    You know how you can order an iPod from Apple with a custom etching on the back?

    Microsoft just placed an order for a few thousand blue iPods with "Microsoft" etched on the back. Internal reports suggest they won't even bother opening up the boxes as they come in the mail, instead just redirect them to their "customers".
  • fools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:52PM (#15670594) Homepage Journal
    Nothing on that list is what iPod owners care about, so this'll be another money bleeding mistake, not an "iPod killer" (besides, didn't we already have an iPod killer this week? I thought they're scheduled every two weeks).

    The iPod is a) simple, b) reliable, c) user-friendly, d) cool, e) well designed and f) ties in well with iTunes. That's what sells it, not bigger screens or WiFi. Nobody who owns an iPod wants to fiddle around for 5 minutes to get the WiFi to work.
  • Get in line (Score:3, Informative)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:10PM (#15670766) Homepage Journal

    Google "ipod killer" -> 1,160,000 results.

    We've seen iPod killers from Sony [theregister.co.uk], iRiver [pcworld.com], Dell [connectedhomemag.com], Nokia [softpedia.com], and of course Creative [arstechnica.com].

    Microsoft has been [com.com] killing [engadget.com] the iPod for years now. They need to get their other iPod killers out of the way to give their new device a piece of that tasty iPod flesh that Apple competitors have been feasting on for years.

  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:11PM (#15670779) Homepage
    Microsoft will also allow you to download from its store any song that you've purchased from Apple, unlocking users from iPod's vendor lock-in.

    The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) lock-in is exaggerated. I think Jobs mentioned that the average iTMS customer purchased US$70 worth of music. That's not much of a lock-in, especially given that we're talking about folks with the resources to buy an iPod - a digital player at the expensive end of the spectrum.

    Now if only Microsoft would expand the policy to include music I purchased on LPs, 8 tracks, and casettes. ;-)
  • Already Exists? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jwilhelm (238084) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:26PM (#15670900) Homepage Journal
    Looks kind of like this...

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/media/gigab eat.mspx [microsoft.com]
  • by PhreakinPenguin (454482) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:34PM (#15670973) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft already has the online store ready to sell music. If anyone has used Urge at all, they've noticed that it's HEAVILY in bed with MS. When WMP11 was in beta, you got a free demo of Urge with it as well. Mark my words, the Urge service will be the MS version of the ITunes store.
  • OGG? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bakes (87194) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:56PM (#15671924) Journal

    Yes, that's all very well, but will it play my OGG files?

  • STOP! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Killshot (724273) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @08:04PM (#15671976) Homepage
    I am so sick of reading news every 6 months about some new "iPod Killer" We can talk about who killed the ipod when it is dead. Until then... Stop pointing fingers.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:17PM (#15672699)
    Msft has said themselves: a big part of the ipod craze is the trendy fashion statement. It's like wearing the right name-brand running shoes, as opposed to some cheap knock-off.

    Consider the age group that is the target market. High school, and college students just don't consider msft cool anymore (did they ever?).

  • by RackinFrackin (152232) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:30PM (#15673040)
    So far, how many iPod killers has the iPod killed?
  • by jandersen (462034) on Friday July 07, 2006 @07:41AM (#15674238)
    It will run Linux!
  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:26AM (#15675142) Homepage
    Here is the MS nightmare scenario...

    * MSFT negotiates one-time flat fee to music industry to let I-tunes customers use the content they already bought on the new player/service.

    * Similar to X-box, product is priced at a discount to build market share and hopefully capture revenue on content distribution

    * Product is locked-down against non-MS software, to ensure the revenue stream is not disrupted by rogue software

    * Lock-down is less than perfect. Hey, it's an MS product.

    * Hackers buy the players, and run Linux on it. Just like they did with Ipod.

    * Wifi hardware means a whole new frontier of peer-to-peer filesharing, after the MS DRM is vaporized.

    * People buy LOTS of MS music players when they realize what is possible with a nifty download

    * Music industry angry with MSFT for enabling a massive, untrackable, unstoppable, wireless P2P network.

    The one missing piece of the puzzle is a wifi music player. Hackers can't create hardware and put in the hands of millions of people. Along comes the unlikely hero... Microsoft!

    And I thought they would never create a product that customers would really want. HA!
  • by mpaque (655244) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:25PM (#15684149)
    Microsoft has been signing up companies to license it's WMA DRM for their players, getting all those companies to pay license fees, and agree to provide Microsoft with sample gear for 'PlaysForSure' testing, and also getting them to sign a license agreement to hold Microsoft harmless for any Intellectual Property violations (patents, design infringement, copyright, etc.)

    Now they're going to go into direct competition with their licensees. This should go over well...

    I'm sure the licensees 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.

    Right...

    Another group of companies are about to learn what happens when one 'partners' with Microsoft. Have a nice day, fellas.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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