Microsoft said that it would develop software for a new portable
media device to be released next year that will allow users to
listen to music and watch movies on the road.
Portable Media Center, Microsoft's answer to Apple Computer
Inc.'s iPod digital music player, will be able to play MP3 files
as well as audio and video content recorded in Microsoft's own
The devices, which will run Microsoft software but be designed
and built by various manufacturers, including Tatung Co., AboCom
Systems Inc., Creative Technology Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.,
and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., are set to hit store shelves
during the second half 2004, Microsoft said.
The world's largest software maker said that its device will
allow users to listen to "thousands of hours of music, watch
digitally recorded TV shows or home movies, and store and view
digital photo albums."
Frank Barbieri, product manager for Microsoft's embedded software
group, said that the Portable Media Center devices will be
designed to be easy to operate and transfer files from a personal
"People are using their PCs for music, picture and video and that
makes a good argument for people to take that content with them,"
Apple's iPod, which became a huge hit for the computer company
known for its distinctive designs, is one of the best-selling
digital music devices on the market, according to various
Although various manufacturers have long sold portable players
for digital music and even videos -- both for Windows and for
Apple's computers-- the larger computer software and hardware
makers had put little of their marketing muscle behind such
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said it was too early to set
a price for the Portable Media Center devices, although the
company said prices would in line with market prices of other
digital media players.
Microsoft's Barbieri said that some Portable Media Center models
are likely to be equipped with standard video outputs so that
users can view pictures or videos on a television.
Recently, Dell Inc. also announced plans to make a digital music
Dell, the No. 1 personal computer company, said it will start
selling on Tuesday a digital music player called the Dell DJ that
starts at $249 for a handheld player that has 15 gigabytes of
data storage and $329 for one with 20 gigabytes of storage.
Dell, which is launching new consumer products to diversify
revenue, also launched the Dell Music Store, which is based on
MusicMatch software and sells songs for 99 cents each, the same
price as Apple's iTunes online music store.