We’ve heard this before, as recently as March in fact, yet here it is again: tales of Microsoft making an iPod beater, but now they’re coming from increasingly creditable sources.
Among the news agencies to ink stories on this very topic late last Friday were Reuters, CNN, Business.com and The New York Times, not to mention half baked muppets like AOL and Fox News. So what’s go chins wagging this time?
The answer is threefold. 1. That new Microsoft golden boy Robbie Bach – who helmed the development of the Xbox video game business – has been appointed to over see the project. 2. That Microsoft’s URGE music download service which it announced in conjunction with MTV last December was merely a dry run for a broader Windows Media Player 11 based iTunes rival that will tie into its player. And 3. That Microsoft is already demonstrating a prototype player to senior music industry bigwigs in an effort to tie up licensing deals.
Reuters, being the good little bloodhound it is, pestered the software monolith repeatedly for a response to these rumours only to be told “No Comment”. Consequently it goes on to quote several ‘sources’ who claim to have seen the project behind closed doors, but as a former investigative hack myself I can tell you people will sometimes say anything to see their words up in lights.
That said, my own take is that a device is in the offing. It makes sense given the company’s clear desire in recent years to diversify away from its pure software heritage. After all, with two generations of games consoles under its belt and the promotion of a whole new PC form factor with the (admittedly, still quite rubbish) UMPC would such a move really prove so difficult?
My bet is on a device which integrates with the final version of the heavily reworked Windows Media Player 11, benefits from ‘exclusive’ features within Vista and debuts soon after the next gen OS. Oh and next week’s lottery numbers will be 11, 19, 22, 32, 38, 46 and the bonus ball is 9.