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Microsoft Making the Next "iPod Killer"

Every week we get another iPod killer. This week it supposedly comes from Microsoft. The rumors have been around for a while but now "sources" have backed it up so it makes the big media. And we all know to never doubt "sources."

Microsoft readying Apple iPod rival: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Software giant Microsoft Corp. is laying the groundwork to compete against Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod digital entertainment device and iTunes service, sources familiar with the discussions and plans said on Friday.

Microsoft has held licensing discussions with the music industry to create its own music service, the sources told Reuters.

The Redmond, Washington-based developer of software that runs most of the world's PCs is also demonstrating an entertainment device that plays videos and music, the sources said.

It is unclear when Microsoft plans to launch, they said.

Microsoft's software technology has provided the copyright framework for a handful of subscription music services globally. But these services have failed to topple Apple's dominance in music and device sales, despite well financed backers including Yahoo Inc..

Frankly I'm still skeptical this device exists (although I have missed a few days of the rumor mill) but assuming it does, let's preview it.

* You'll need to run 4 wizards to install it and 2 more each time you use it.

* It will only play music you pay Bill Gates for.

* It will continually check to make sure you paid Bill Gates for said music.

* Every time you play a song, 3 popup windows will ask you if you want to play something else instead.

* Simply picking the song you want will require 12 layers of menus and 3 forms of advertisement.

* It will have multiple layers of integration with Word, Excel and Outlook to really confuse the user.

* Exactly ZERO attention will be paid to the simple task of playing music.

I could be wrong of course... But if history is any predictor of the future...



And DON"T MISS this preview of the Microsoft iPod.


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Comments (28)

Paul - But do you ... (Below threshold)

Paul -

But do you think it will have some drawbacks, too?

lol They're featur... (Below threshold)
Paul:

lol

They're features I tell ya, features.

Is it a co-incidence that t... (Below threshold)

Is it a co-incidence that the PC on the latest Apple commercials has a vague resemblance to BG (but just vague enough to stay away from the MS legal department)? 'Cept the PC doesn't have a trophy wife...

Looks to me like Microshit ... (Below threshold)
stan25:

Looks to me like Microshit is getting stomped by Apple and it's Ipod. It also looks a cheap knock off too. Microshit can't design anything, they steal it--patents be damned. How many times now has Microshit has announced a competitor to the Ipod? Too many to count and I still not have seen a product. Kind of reminds me of Vista.

You forgot about the blue s... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

You forgot about the blue screen of death feature. On the other hand, this may be a great test to see the impact of Gates. If this actually occurs, wins business and meets consumer's needs, then we will know what the role of "chief software architect" was.

I have tested a number of m... (Below threshold)
James:

I have tested a number of music players over the years everything from the original WinAmp to current versions of iTunes and WMP 10&11. Your criticisms don't match my experience.

My wife has a Nano most of your complaints could be leveled at Mr. Jobs and Apple as well. A restrictive format that attempts to get you to buy music you already own coupled with a music player that is memory hog that also installs a video service that constantly pops inquires about being updated and other nonsense. I can easily connect almost any MP3 device and sync lists of music in WMP what other devices does iTunes work with?

I think Scrappleface summed it up best today.

I love the video on the MS ... (Below threshold)

I love the video on the MS iPod. I wonder what kind of PC it was produced on...

Sadly, the video was all to... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Sadly, the video was all too true.

The video is great but, to ... (Below threshold)
Tom:

The video is great but, to be fair, it was produced by Microsoft's own marketing guys to show how NOT to make advertising packaging.

I don't usually like Microsoft, but I've got to tip the hat at people who can make fun of themselves.

You should add:To ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

You should add:

To turn it off you go to the 'Start' menu and select Shutdown twice.

Hmmmm.Here's a cou... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Here's a couple actual predictions:

1. It'll use .NET Framework to communicate to the servers where youcan buy music.

2. If your .NET Framework gets hosed for any reason, and frankly it's a fairly delicate thing IMHO, then you're totally screwed. To recover from a .NET Framework setup problem generally requires a complete HD wipe followed by a reinstall of everything.

I know this because:

1. Microsoft uses .NET Framework for just about everything. Including Microsoft Money 2006.

2. Something completely hosed my .NET Framework on my laptop and I've tried just about everything to fix it. Now I'm looking at wiping the HD. Reinstalling Win XP Pro. And then reinstalling 25 gig of dev kits, tools, IDEs and servers.

That's what I've been doing for the last 4 days. And it sucks a** like nothing I've ever experienced in my life. Even writing SDLC communications software in MicroFocus COBOL didn't suck half as bad.

That Microsoft iPod commerc... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

That Microsoft iPod commercial was hillarious. But then again, Apple's packaging sucks as well for the exact opposite reason. I remember looking at Apple LCD screens, trying to figure out what the contrast ratio and refresh rates were for them. At the time, you couldn't find that information anywhere, not on the Apple site, and not on any review sites that I came across. Now they seem to have finally smartened up, but they still hide it by forcing you to find the small print link to the technical specifications. Instead, Apple seems to think that you really want to know how many colors it displays (hint: just as many as any of the other hundreds of LCD monitors you could buy) and whether it is compatible with a VESA mount (Yes! Thank God! We're Saved!). Also, repeating that your 23-Inch Monitor has a 23-inch screen is a stroke of brilliance and definately space that should not be used telling someone that the monitor has a 400:1 contrast ratio.

So, Microsoft tells you more than you want to know right off the bat, while Apple makes you have to work to find out what you need to know. I'll take Microsoft's version any day. After all, I don't buy stuff for the nice-looking packaging.

Never run into that signifi... (Below threshold)
blueeyes:

Never run into that significant of a .NET failure. I mean, it can be irritating, but the worst I've run into could be fixed with just uninstall and reinstall.

Anyway, Microsoft tends to do better in mobile situations. You can't commit the normal Windows issues on them - no device driver issues, for obvious reasons, and the smaller screen naturally prevents the bloat that XP and Vista have.

Windows CE was a hell of a lot more successful than, say, ME, particularly given how drenched the market was with PALM OS models.

It shouldn't be too hard to compete with iPod. It's got a counterintuitive interface (anyone faced with a new one will always ask how the f*** the wheel works), gets finicky if you don't use software than 90-95% of the populace wouldn't use if it weren't for the iPod, and is a pain to carry compared to any model that's slightly wider or thicker (go ahead, try carrying an iPod for a long run).

That's, of course, assuming Microsoft can avoid Apple's mistakes - drawing a path in the sand, and saying 'my way or the highway'. Of course, given how Vista looks, I doubt they can do better.

If it should happen to play... (Below threshold)
Stormin:

If it should happen to play any music, it won't be the song that YOU want, because after all Microsoft know what you need....

Hmmmm.Nev... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Never run into that significant of a .NET failure. I mean, it can be irritating, but the worst I've run into could be fixed with just uninstall and reinstall.

I assure you. Right now I'm in .NET hell. So far I've tried to avoid working on anything that requires me to compile to any assemblies, but that's not going to last.

Essentially I got a "1935" error when trying to compile an ASP.NET webservice. This is where the .NET compilers cannot find the appropriate version of .NET Framework. Simply uninstalling and reinstalling the appropriate .NET Framework doesn't do the job. Instead you have to manually rip out the .NET Framework, manually remove the install MSI files, remove all traces of .NET Framework from the registry (including many by hand) and so forth and so on.

The problem is that there are 4 versions of .NET Framework. 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 and now 3.0. Some dev kits require certain versions of the .NET Framework. And some dev kits will completely hose all previous versions of .NET Framework in the mistaken assumption that you really don't need to continue supporting or developing those applications.

In this case I think I tracked it down to Borland's Delphi 2005. Which makes sense because Borland is populated by a bunch of idiots.

What a horror show.

At this point going after t... (Below threshold)
James:

At this point going after the MP3 player market would be a mistake. However if they made some sort of unified device that allowed gaming, music, video gps mapping, email and internet on one device that would be an iPod killer. Of course when you write something like that down it sounds as likely as seeing a unicorn in the near term.

Apple does a lot of things well but where they go from the iPod I'm not clear on. They aren't into gaming very much and they don't have a phone OS where Microsoft has mature technologies that they continually build on.

So if Microsoft comes out with an iPod clone it will fail. If they come out with a device that is a marriage of a Treo, GPS and PSP... Well I guess we'll just have to see.

Oddly, I think y'all are co... (Below threshold)

Oddly, I think y'all are congflating MS Software and Hardware. They HW portion of MS makes damn good products. Their keyboards, mice, game controllers, network hardware (though I think they have been dicontinued) are all really good.

They do understand ergonmics, the orignal XBox controller notwithstanding.

I'm am not saying they will make a great, Apple quality product, but they aren't as hopeless as y'all are makign them out to be.

* You'll need to r... (Below threshold)
JimK:
* You'll need to run 4 wizards to install it and 2 more each time you use it.

* It will only play music you pay Bill Gates for.

* It will continually check to make sure you paid Bill Gates for said music.

So it will be exactly like iTunes then? Cool. Can't wait.

/iTunes user since 2002

I'm actually looking forwar... (Below threshold)
DJ:

I'm actually looking forward to MS's MP3 foray and couldn't agree more that MS makes some of the best hardware products out there, both in terms of ergonomics and functionality.

As I never bought into the 'cult' of iPod, I've been stuck with great hardware (Sony NW-HD1 and HD3), great fidelity, but seriously lacking any integrated accessories. Couple this with possibly the worst music management software ever written (SonicStage) and anything from MS will be a breath of fresh air for those of us who have resisted the lure of Apple.

I have to say, if you want ... (Below threshold)
JimK:

I have to say, if you want great music management software it really is hard to beat iTunes. I would just never pay actual money for 128K AAC files with DRM. And I don't use it to rip or encode or tag. It sucks at all of those things. But as an organizer? Hard to beat nestable smart playlists.

Why would anyone use an iPo... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Why would anyone use an iPod anyway, when there are so many players already available by Creative, iRiver, and other guys?

What sucks about the iPod i... (Below threshold)

What sucks about the iPod is the need for continually updated third-party software to hack the iPod so you can manage your songs on the iPod and back them up directly. And try using one iPod on both a PC and a Mac.

I keep my MP3's on an external hard drive, where I back up other things to keep the computers' hard drives uncluttered with 20+ Gigs of sound. After a good scan for malignant code. iTunes doesn't like that.

Dude with the "carrying a iPod" disability: Get a Shuffle and and arm band.

I use a creative Zen with y... (Below threshold)
GoldenGreg:

I use a creative Zen with yahoo music. $99 a year to download all I want to the Zen, never have bought one song like I would be forced to with the ISOB. And then they make you return the ISOB after 18 months for a new battery for $60? What a joke. Here in Bay area CA most of the hippies have Ipods, just showing how marketing and "being cool" means to them.

If microsoft wants to win a... (Below threshold)
josh:

If microsoft wants to win anything then -yeah-, keep with wireless and offer a subsciption fee to listen to any song in their database.

like rhapsody-

then they are basically a radio you can program- different enough to work.

Gee, I wonder what side Pau... (Below threshold)

Gee, I wonder what side Paul is on? As a general rule, I'd choose a Microsoft product over an Apple one. In this case, however, I'm not too sure. Even assuming MS manages to come out with a better product--which will take quite some doing--they'll have to overcome the huge name-recognition advantage the iPod has, as well as people's familiarity with the iPod/iTunes (what's with all the i's, anyways?) combo.

>Gee, I wonder what side Pa... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Gee, I wonder what side Paul is on?

The end user.

Hmmmm.As for the w... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

As for the whole iPod-killer thing.

Frankly the last thing I need is yet another device in my pockets. Right now I carry a cellphone, PDA (which doubles as a mp3 player) and a PSP.

What I want, need, is a single device that can do all of that and more.

My preferred device? It would have the following:

1. cellphone
2. wireless connectivity for gaming, web browsing, internet applications & VOIP
3. decent gaming rig
4. 3.5" color screen for gaming or viewing videos.
5. PDA capabilities.
6. card mounted harddrive
7. ability to watch broadcast television

Give me that in something that'll fit in my pocket, and you've got a sale.

Hmmmm.I k... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

I keep my MP3's on an external hard drive,

I hope you're not using a Maxtor One-Touch external.

Mine is giving me all the signs of it dying a slow miserable death. If it is a Maxtor, then check out Amazon.com for all the bad reviews.




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