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Image courtesy Engadget
Microsoft's Argo and the master plan behind the portable media player -- and possible gaming unit

Engadget has posted a picture of what looks to be Microsoft's much talked about iPod competitor. The site claims that they were sent the image from an insider working on the project -- if true, they'll likely be looking for a new job if J. Allard gets wind of this. According to a recent article from The Seattle Times, the internal codename for the new portable media player (PMP) is Argo; Microsoft's homage to Greek mythology.

While most people have been talking up the audio and video capabilities of the player, Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times points out that Argo could possibly double as a portable gaming unit similar in spirit to the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS. The scarcity of front-side buttons plays against this idea, but anything is possible. Dudley also points out that Argo could serve as a showcase for Microsoft's XNA toolkit. From The Seattle Times:

Argo could help the December quarter and give executives something to discuss with analysts other than product delays, Bill Gates' departure and the high cost of doing battle with Google. I had thought Microsoft would put its holiday marketing effort behind Urge, a music service it developed with MTV and bundled into Windows Vista's new media-player software. It's helping device makers produce players that show off Urge and the software. Now, those efforts are in parallel with Argo.

Microsoft's Argo looks to be reasonably stylish, which is a key factor in taking on the Apple iPod. Although this is just a mockup and design details are likely not yet finalized, it looks to be a step in the right direction.

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RE: Nope
By tdawg on 7/10/2006 8:11:15 PM , Rating: 4
The real key to competing with the iPod is usability. Sure form (aka style) certainly helps, but form alone will go nowhere. It needs to be easily usable to anybody that picks it up. The intuitiveness of an iPod is what makes it successful, not the simple style. If the iPod had been released with the looks it has, but a poorly designed user interface and general ease of usability, it would have fallen flat.

That's what all the new players seem to miss. Sure other devices may have more functions, but if they can't be used intuitively, what's the point. There's an entire field dedicated to usability and those companies that adhere more closely to its principles when creating their products will tend to find more success.

I'm sick of everybody saying that iPod owners own iPods simply because they are "pretty". The bottom line is that the iPod is the most user friendly PMP to hit the market and no company has come up with a stronger, more intuitive design.

RE: Nope
By Josh7289 on 7/10/2006 9:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
True, but intuitiveness is not the only factor. If the iPod was as ugly as some of the other players, even if it had the same functionality, there would be no way it would sell as much as it did.

So, even if the Argo has the functionality and usability, its looks are enough to keep potential buyers with Apple and the iPod.

RE: Nope
By arod on 7/11/2006 1:05:28 AM , Rating: 2
go try the toshiba gigabeat S using microsofts portable media center ui. it is excellent and much better imo than the ipod ui. i would expect this to use the portable media center ui with maybe a few modifications.
(here is a video of said interface in action)

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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