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Microsoft Confirms New Music Player 415

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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  • by imaginaryelf ( 862886 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:31PM (#15760174)
    If they didn't have Apple to emulate?
  • 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.
  • Re:DRM? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:36PM (#15760209) Homepage Journal
    Do you mean whether it will require DRM? All the current portable media players will play non-DRM media in some format or another, so I don't really understand the issue. Even that other player that's a four letter word doesn't require DRM media to operate. If you are against the player even supporting DRM, then you'll probably have a problem with this one too because I doubt Microsoft would sell a player that doesn't support DRM at all, afterall, Plays For Sure is a Microsoft technology, and I doubt the larger rights holders (the __AAs) would licence their media without it.
  • 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 [] a lot to kill Arabs?
  • by Kenshin ( 43036 ) <kenshin@lunarwo r k> on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:38PM (#15760226) Homepage
    It goes even further than that:

    Creative: Zen
    Microsoft: Zune

    Apple must be somewhat pleased, as I imagine this will take Creative's army of lawyer's focus off them.
  • Re:Tacospeak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Naomi_the_butterfly ( 707218 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:40PM (#15760240)
    Networked sharing of devices between friends, the sharing of media (yes, even purchased media in a limited "Controlled Sharing" way according to the RIAA), direct shopping for music whenever you're in range of a hotspot.

    That's some pretty nifty stuff!
  • 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.

  • Re:Market Speak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Friday July 21, 2006 @05:45PM (#15760270)
    Well, yeah, pretty much. Microsoft has already largely staked their future on this. It's the cornerstone of Trusted Computing.

  • 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.
  • hmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:31PM (#15760545)
    Zen + iTunes = Zune?
  • by TheZorch ( 925979 ) <thezorch @ g m a i l . c om> 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.
  • by vought ( 160908 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:45PM (#15760626)
    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 marketshare as we can.

    You know what? Some day, the music will stop in Redmond. Maybe not anytime soon - maybe not even in the next ten years - but the gravy train's wheels will fall off as more companies like Apple and Google continue to introduce truly better alternatives to the same crap Microsoft keeps shoveling.

    You think the itunes interface sucks? Most people disagree. I think the WMP interface sucks - and most iTunes users agree. Microsoft couldn't design it's way out f a paper bag - but look at the elegant and simple tools that Apple and google deliver - oh, wait - this is Slashdot - if I say Pages is a better writing and layout tool than Word, then I'm just a fanboy.

    But it's true - Google Earth, Sketch, etc. are all powerful by dint of their simplicity. Office is a fucking nightmare. You can't just start typing in Word - oh, no.

    At some point, people will get tired of it. I have faith in that.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Friday July 21, 2006 @07:02PM (#15760712) Journal
    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.

  • by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @07:10PM (#15760756) Homepage Journal
    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 you going to complain about not selling K-Mart branded merchandise?
    Food for thought.

  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> 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 drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday July 21, 2006 @07:38PM (#15760884) Homepage Journal
    I miss my Amiga 500. What a superb machine, to get that entire O/S on two 3.5" diskettes.

    Two? My OS came on one diskette. It also came with an AmigaBASIC disk. However, the entire OS is not on disk. There's also 512kB (for the A500) of ROM without which the system will not function.

  • by calstraycat ( 320736 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:22PM (#15761026)
    According to this [] 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 Cid Highwind ( 9258 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:50PM (#15761135) Homepage
    I think I posted a the same comment when MS announced the Xbox. Got modded up +4 or +5 insightful, too.

    Look where the Xbox and Xbox 360 are now, I was totally wrong about the xbox, and that's why I think you are wrong about their music player. MS can and will use their piles of money to buy into another market, like they did when they rolled out Windows (financed by DOS money until they finally made a useful product at version 3.0), Office (financed with Windows/DOS revenue until it could take on Lotus 1-2-3, Wordstar, WordPerfect, et al), IE (licensed Spyglass code and bought most of Netscape's market share with Windows/Office money), Xbox, Windows Media Player, and every other MS product since DOS. Even if the first version sucks like a black hole they can keep pouring money into development and advertising until they gain a majority market share.
  • Riiiight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @10:56PM (#15761502)
    The 'sealed battery' iPod is an indication that:

    1. Apple doesn't have a particulary good design staff.
    2. They're cheap with their products.

    3. Apple knows when to break the "rules" of design for good effect.

    Do you think Apple has sold tens of millions of iPods because of, or in spite of, design. That is an obvious design area that someone obviously conciously made a choice on, what makes you think that feature was not meant as a positive feature for users like the others?

    I'll summarize it for you - if batteries last long enough, consumers would rather charge a device than replace batteries. The choice to allow for easy user extraction of batteries also leads to design compromises in the case because you must now allow for a door. It also allows kids to take batteries out and loose them.

    In short, I think Apple may know something you are not thinking about.
  • Predictions: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crhylove ( 205956 ) <> 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.
  • by Epeeist ( 2682 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @02:45AM (#15762098) Homepage
    > They are a software company

    No they aren't. They are a marketing company that just happens to produce software.
  • by Zhe Mappel ( 607548 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:19AM (#15762340)
    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 of a little thing called IE?)

    I'll never own a Zune. I don't shop at Wal-Mart, either, but you know what? I hear it's kind of popular.

  • by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:31AM (#15762357)
    I wonder how feels about this?
    I wonder what they'll change it to after Microsoft gets done "explaining" that "Zune" is theirs for the taken, just 'cause they feel like it.
  • Re:Whoooo! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Naomi_the_butterfly ( 707218 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @01:08PM (#15763341)
    yeeeeeesh! I was just saying I'm willing to try something new because of my multiple bad experiences with the ipod. The bad experiences have reduced my apple-loyalty to nill and I'm willing to try the competition.

Happiness is twin floppies.