It had to happen – although Microsoft have had mixed fortunes in the hardware market, it was inevitable that they would release a competitor to the iPod and other personal media players out there.
This new gadget will have functionality not seen in iPods so far: video playback and picture display, and it will run MS’s Portable Media Centre (PMC) OS. “We think this is going to be one of the hot devices for Christmas 2004,” said James Bernard, product manager for PMC. The hardware itself is basically a Creative player with a 20 or 40 gb hard drive. Sizewise, it’s about three times the thickness of an iPod and twice as long.
The device will play MP3s, so won’t be completely tied to Microsoft’s own Windows Media Format. As previously reported, MS have content deals in place with Napster and EMI.
Pricing in the in relevant markets varies, but is estimated to be US$750, €550 (Denmark, Sweden) and UK£399.
The impeding release can only increase speculation that Apple will retort with a video iPod at some point next year.