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Microsoft Confirms New Music Player 415

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-on dept.
Udo Schmitz writes "It's official now. Reuters confirms the rumors that Microsoft wants to take on Apple's iPod and iTunes. From the article: 'Microsoft Corp. said on Friday it plans to release a new music and entertainment player and accompanying software under the "Zune" brand this year, in a belated attempt to challenge the dominance of Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod player ... Microsoft sources said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, is working with J. Allard, vice president of its Xbox team, on the digital media player/software project.'"
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Microsoft Confirms New Music Player

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  • Tacospeak (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:17PM (#15760077)
    No wireless. More buttons than an iPod. Lame.
  • by plover (150551) * on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:20PM (#15760094) Homepage Journal
    In suspiciously coincidental news, Steve Jobs has been seen taking chair-throwing lessons.
  • May I be the first to say "Whooooo"? Anyway, the two factors for me in whether I'll buy it will be price and (video) content. As for the content porting rumors I've heard (supposedly Microsoft will provide free copies of any music purchased on itunes) I'll buy it either way - at worst I'll just burn/rip my collection. Yes, it's a hassle and reduces quality, but my non-audiophile ears won't hear it and if it's much cheaper or has much more content, it'll be worth it. Good to see some competition with poten
    • My old ipod mini will turn two years old in March and my extended warranty will expire so I have a feeling I'll be looking for a replacement about a week later.

      My 1st gen iPod is still going strong, I'm not sure how many years later...

      Also, the rumor was one of the things it includes is Wi-Fi so I'd take a careful look at form factor and battery life before you become convinced this is the arrival of the iPod killer that has been foretold.
  • Nice name! (Score:5, Funny)

    by blugu64 (633729) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:21PM (#15760101) Homepage
    "Zune"?

    It just me or does Zune sound like some OSS dev tool?
  • by TommydCat (791543) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:22PM (#15760104) Homepage
    Zis makez me zooo eczstatic!

    If this follows the suit of previous MS hardware it should be of good quality and support, but how smart is it to compete against those manufacturers supporting your Plays For Zure standard?

    If someone comes up with wireless (WiFi or bluetooth) syncing as well as good sound quality (also meaning it'll support a [DRM-free] lossless codec), I'll be sold, but until then I'll hang onto my 3-year-old iRiver unless it breaks.

    • RTFA, friend. It WILL have wireless.

      Music industry sources told Reuters earlier this month that Microsoft disclosed plans to be in the market before Christmas with a media player that will allow users to download videos and music wirelessly.
      • Read my own zentence again... the part after the "and" ;)

        If the zound quality is good enough for critical listening and really iz coming to a ztore near me zune, I juzt may get one!

        • I have it on good authority (common sense, knowing Microsoft) that it will SUPPORT lossless codecs... but I doubt they'll be selling that. On the other hand, as was recently proposed by an arstechnica journal, selling lossless versions of media for an extra 20-30 cents just might work, not to mention give Microsoft another line of publicity in the papers ("perfect quality" sounds good!) I saw the "and" but wasn't sure that that was the clincher ;)
      • by HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:54PM (#15760323)
        RTFA, friend. It WILL have wireless. Music industry sources told Reuters earlier this month that Microsoft disclosed plans to be in the market before Christmas with a media player that will allow users to download videos and music wirelessly.
        You're absolutely correct - Microsoft always ships on-time.


        Oh wait...

        "In April 2002, Microsoft's Allchin announced that Longhorn (later renamed Vista) would ship in the second half of 2004."

  • Naming Convention (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:24PM (#15760122)
    In keeping with each system's naming conventions:

    Apple:
    iTunes

    Microsoft:
    My Zunes

    In other words, Microsoft is even ripping off the name, but making it crappier.
  • At least not on my Mac....
  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:26PM (#15760133)
    Lemme guess... consumer multimedia is Microsoft's house and they're not gonna let Apple take food off their plate.
  • by faust2097 (137829) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:28PM (#15760142)
    "Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, is working with J. Allard, vice president of its Xbox team, on the digital media player/software project"

    Does this mean they'll spend $6 billion on it and end up capturing 23% of the market? Because this team is really, really good at that.
  • Description (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:28PM (#15760144) Homepage Journal
    Set your music in motion
    With support for up to 15,000 songs and up to 150 hours of video on a 2.5-inch QVGA color display, iPod^H^H^H^H Zune gives you the ultimate music experience -- sight and sound -- in a lighter, thinner design. Available in classic white^H^H^H^H^H Blue and dramatic black^H^H^H^H^H Blue."
  • Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:28PM (#15760148) Homepage
    Go Microsoft! Delivering 2003's technology today!
  • by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary DOT ad ... privacy AT gmail> on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:29PM (#15760155)
    ...showing what one can expect the package [google.com] to look like. :-)
  • by imaginaryelf (862886) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:31PM (#15760174)
    If they didn't have Apple to emulate?
  • by MK_CSGuy (953563) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:31PM (#15760176)
    But I don't believe it 'till Netcraft confirms it
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:32PM (#15760181) Homepage
    At this point it's about pride at Microsoft because none of their peripheral vendors can make a dent in Apple's market share.

    They knock-off the iTunes and buy a bunch of media ads for the holiday sell-a-thon. By now the've paid for the retail slots too.

    I think they've missed the boat though.
  • when MS announce they are going to compete with apple in this market, and Apples shares go up?

    And it is not a media device, it is a lifestyle device...sheeesh.
  • My ipods do their job well. Simple to operate and 'just works'. ( oh and it looks nice too, which is plus ) What does microsoft offer that the ipod doesnt?
  • Will it play ogg vorbis files ?
  • Microsoft's "me too" products have not been very successful in the last several years.

    An organization that doesn't have the creativity to create something often doesn't have even the creativity necessary to copying it successfully.

    --
    Are you willing to pay [costofwar.com] a lot to kill Arabs?
    • Don't forget, if they cannot out innovate Apple they can buy a competitor of Apple and use that technology. Do not write them off yet.

      Though the biggest foobar in this field was probably HP. About the year 2000 shortly after the Compaq merger, Compaq had an MP3 player but HP killed it, and instead tried to rebrand and sell ipods. They could have got in early but were too unimaginative to figure out what to do with it.
    • I like my Microsoft mouse, actually. Forward/Back buttons, scroll wheel, optical. What's not to like?
    • by Ilgaz (86384) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:36PM (#15760567) Homepage
      They may do their weird, dark deals with companies like Viacom to distribute wmedia only.

      Oh wait, they do already.

      "Unfortunately, Microsoft's Windows Media Player Plug-in for Macintosh does not support Windows DRM. If DRM support becomes available for Macintosh, MTV will develop a version of MTV Overdrive that works on a Mac."

      If a company needs exclusive deals like that, their format stinks. It is not their format even, they acquired dozens of codec companies and packaged them into some sort of naziware which never worked on other OS'es except their windows. If you don't use their OS, you get punished.

      You know what makes me mad? Those videos are more likely cut, edited and processed on Mac. I wouldn't be surprised if they used Telestream pro products to produce that windows media on OS X even.

      Now you would tell me Apple does not make iTunes for Linux. Well, Real just SPOKE about enabling DRM on Linux/FreeBSD and you see what happened and the feedback they got.

      I am glad Apple Quicktime Division and Real Networks still alive competing with that mafia style company...
  • by Daas (620469) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:40PM (#15760242)
    Microsoft have already done the software on the Toshiba Gigabeat S series... It can be syncronised with an Xbox 360, plays video, has FM support and sells for about the same price as an iPod. It uses a portable Media Center edition.

    See the CNET review : http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-11396_7-6550266-1.htm l [cnet.com]

    Ah, and has DRM (yeah !)

    Daas
  • by freeradica1 (891828) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:41PM (#15760246)
    Part of the reason ITunes is popular (and one of the reasons that I use Winamp instead of WMP) is that the user interface for Windows Media Player sucks. Likewise, Firefox isn't only more functional than IE, it also just looks and feels better and cleaner. Even if "Zunes" had a better name, a seemless interface with online music stores, and no annoying DRM gimmicks, I would probably still pick another media player. Because Microsoft's UI's just suck. Microsoft's been sitting around waiting for the past 5-10 years for someone to come along with sleaker media players and browsers (and a cleaner OS), and now it's paying the price.
  • by sootman (158191) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:42PM (#15760249) Homepage Journal
    Editors: you misspelled 'iPod Killer" :-)
  • by boxlight (928484) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:43PM (#15760264)
    Apple not only has a stranglehold on the music player market, they have insane product loyalty, and they own the elusive "cool factor" with the iPod brand.

    At this stage, for Microsoft to try and get into this market comes across as desperate and pathetic. Microsoft can't use Windows as leverage in this proposition -- like they could when they killed the well-rooted Wordperfect, Lotus123, and later Netscape -- so the only way Microsoft can make a dent here is for them to do something extremely innovative. That's simply not Microsoft's M.O.

    This time next year: MS "Zune" is a distant memory, and iPod/iTunes owns 85% of the online movie rental/download business, and Apple has begun to make serious inroads in the "home media center" market.

    boxlight
    • by vought (160908)
      This time next year: MS "Zune" is a distant memory, and iPod/iTunes owns 85% of the online movie rental/download business, and Apple has begun to make serious inroads in the "home media center" market.


      Why do you think they preannounced this piece of shit two weeks before WWDC and five months before it'll ship?

      Microsoft's business as usual: Preannounce, overpromise, underdeliver. Rinse, later, repeat. Bankroll everything with Windows and Office revenue, and damn the torpedos, we'll buy ourselves as much mark
    • by jcr (53032)
      At this stage, for Microsoft to try and get into this market comes across as desperate and pathetic.

      Yeah, it's almost as bad as their attempt to enter Google's market.

      -jcr
    • by NullProg (70833)
      Apple not only has a stranglehold on the music player market

      I disagree. Apple had to negotiate with the record companies (RIAA) in order to get an online store for music in the first place (read the articles on how the record companies what to restructure iTunes). Itunes is their store and they can pretty much do what they want with their store. Your not prevented from purchasing MP3's from Yahoo and downloading them to your iPod. Your not prevented from ripping your CDs and playing them on your iPod.

      Are
    • so the only way Microsoft can make a dent here is for them to do something extremely innovative.

      You've never seen an American movie or driven an American car, have you?

      If you had, you wouldn't have such a misplaced faith in innovation. Things Microsoft can do to disturb Apple's market position include non-innovative yet time-tested measures:

      Beat Apple on price
      Appeal to the lowest common denominator
      Subvert the supply chain (through deals with the music mafia)
      Integrate Zune software in Vista (heard

  • As usual, Microsoft waits for someone else to develop some new technology and a new market, then it tries to use its dominant position and money to take the market over. Microsoft claims that it innovates. That claim is crap. And this time I think they will fail to take over a product/technology. I expect Apple will cut its prices and make it unprofitable for Microsoft. Apple has probably already made enough money on the ipod and itunes.

    This is one way for Microsoft to 'compete' in the marketplace; they
  • But it looks like they'll be shipping Real Zune Now.
  • Name? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mtec (572168) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:52PM (#15760309)
    Zune's a name like Tune, (how odd!)
    Just lacks an 'i' and lacks a 'Pod'.

    With marketing and Xbox gloss
    They'll gain a share but take the loss.

    With 40 billion stock bought back
    Ballmer might just dodge the sack.

    But Jobs would say the chance is slim,
    and silhouettes will come for him.
  • by Lally Singh (3427) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:08PM (#15760407) Journal
    Well, people weren't appreciating the iPod enough, so MS in all their generosity wanted to show people how bad a music player could be.
  • by noamsml (868075) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <lmsmaon>> on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:10PM (#15760414) Homepage
    Zune = fuck (noun) in Hebrew.
  • Awesome... (Score:3, Funny)

    by pestilence669 (823950) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:11PM (#15760423)
    Now my music player can crash just like my Windows desktop and PocketPC smart phone... or overheat like my X-Box 360... or falsely accuse me of pirating like WGA has started doing... or help spread virus outbreaks like Internet Explorer... I can't hardly wait. Damn the iPod and it's crazy similar interface.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:41PM (#15760591) Homepage Journal
    I hope it's as successful and lucrative as the Xbox.
  • by TheZorch (925979) <thezorch.gmail@com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:42PM (#15760603) Homepage
    Microsoft is obsessed with success. They can't stant it when anyone else is a success in a certain market that they aren't a part of, so what do they do? They dive head first into that market without any care for the consequences (eg. XBox, Origami, Windows LIVE, etc).

    They are a software company, Google is a search engine/web advertising company. What does Microsoft do? They get into the search engine/web advertising business and directly target Google. They jumped into the game console business because Sony was success at it, and now they are taking on the iPod. I see a disturbing trend here. Microsoft is spreading itself thin here "like too little butter spread over too much bread" quoting Bilbo from LOTR. They gotten into to many different markets and now they are getting into the MP3 player/online music store business. Not to mention they are going up against a seemingly unstoppable powerhouse; iPod+iTunes.

    The company is faultering, they are under severe preassure from the EU over anti-trust violations, Windows Vista will now be 2 years late and will not have all of the features they promised, they are loosing millions on the XBox 360 project, and they are swiftly loosing users of their staple software ei; MS Office and Internet Explorer to the likes of Open Office, Firefox and Opera.

    Microsoft needs to go back to what they once were, a software company and stop trying to be a do it all business. No one corporation can be in all markets at once, Microsoft is trying, but it will ultimately be their undoing.
    • > They are a software company

      No they aren't. They are a marketing company that just happens to produce software.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin&amiran,us> on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:52PM (#15760656) Homepage Journal
    The MS Zune will combine the profitability of the Xbox with the marketshare of MS Origami.

    Just my 2 cents.....

    Does anyone feel like watching MS and the music business is like watching a bad fantasy drama? MS's henchman/proxies (WMPlayer devices) have failed to defeat the hero, iPod, and the balding, fat, but still competent with a rapier evil king gets up out of his throne huffing and puffing, yelling, "Not this time! I'll deal with you myself!"

    Of course, we know how this swordfight ends in the movies. We'll see how it plays in the MP3 market. With any luck, we'll see the EU bust open Microsoft's Windows Media DRM, similar to what it did with FairPlay.
  • by DaveM753 (844913) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:59PM (#15760691)
    Clippy(TM) for Zune:

    "It looks like you are trying to play an iPod file. Would you like me to delete it?"

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @07:23PM (#15760822) Homepage Journal

    The iPod has been at the top of the heap for a long time now, for good reason. They have created a seamless hardware/software experience that makes digital music easy enough for non gearheads to understand and enjoy. I have a 10Gb iPod and a shuffle, and use both all the time. They're excellent products, and they've changed the way I listen to music. In fact, the RIAA has even made more money off of me than they would have before, because I buy more music now.

    Apple has done a lot right with the iPod/iTunes combo, but it's not a perfect combination just yet. Managing libraries across different computers and different users isn't as easy as it should be, for example. But in a larger sense, I get a bit nervous any time a single company dominates a market. Microsoft's operating system dominance has helped in many ways, but has also arguably hindered to an even larger degree. After it gobbled up Macromedia, Adobe is pretty much the only commercial game in town for graphic design software, Quark being the lone holdout of note, and they're essentially a one-product company. I don't like shelling out big bucks for Adobe product updates as I wonder if their prices would be cheaper and the software would be better if they had some serious competition.

    The same is true for Apple. They've done an excellent job so far, and I want them to keep improving the iPod/iTunes combination. They *need* competition to keep them hungry, and when they're hungry, it's better for consumers like me.

    I don't think Microsoft will be able to unseat Apple from the digital music throne, but if Microsoft blows this one it won't necessarily be beneficial for the digital music market in the long term.

  • by calstraycat (320736) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:22PM (#15761026)
    According to this [thestreet.com] article, the music service and player will be incompatible with Microsoft's own PlayForSure format. So, Microsoft is planning to open a music store that sells music that is not only incompatible with the market-leading iPod, but also with every other mp3 player on the market today.

    Does this strike anyone else as completely insane? With Napster, Yahoo, Creative, SanDisk, etc. already losing money competing with iTunes/iPod, does Microsoft really believe it can come into the market at this late with yet a third proprietary format and gain any traction at all? Is this move another sign of their arrogant belief they can do in every other market what the did in the PC space? Or, is it just desperation?

    Does anyone here on Slashdot believe they can succeed with this strategy?
  • by skingers6894 (816110) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:02PM (#15761179)
    ...so the "we make the software and you guys make the hardware" thing not working out so well in this market?
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:21PM (#15761242) Journal
    There's already a Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] covering this a bit, including a prototype picture [wikipedia.org]. Not only is it very iPod-looking, but given that prototypes tend to be slick artist concept work often looking better than the end product, I'm not really impressed. :-/ Comparison picture [wikipedia.org] as a reminder of what they're dealing with. Sure, it's just a prototype, but it simply can't look anything like that. :-p
  • Predictions: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:58PM (#15761508) Homepage Journal
    MS will do one of two things:

    Enter the market with a solid piece of hardware that plays mp3s and doesn't require any drivers or DRM to hook up to a computer (with any OS), and then precede to dominate the market.

    Enter the market with a sub-par piece of hardware that is barely as good as an ipod, and has their own wmv DRM on it, and then precede to flop in yet another market.

    I'll take bets for either scenario.

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