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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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Reference Design?
By psychobriggsy on 7/11/2006 7:23:33 AM , Rating: 2
Is this a reference design that third party manufacturers will take and modify, or are Microsoft going to be providing everything - player, PC software, music & video store?

I think the picture about looks pretty dire, it lacks that certain something the iPod has. By the time it is released the iPod will have been updated too - although Apple aren't being too quick to do anything right now.

I don't see many iPod owners wanting to re-rip their entire music collection again - how many people would have changed iTunes from ripping in AAC to ripping in MP3? Regardless of the issue of Fairplay DRM locking in iPod users who've bought from iTMS, this will be a reason why it is practically impossible in the short term to release an iPod killer. iPods work extremely well, from the player interface and software through the ease of updating, through a very simple and easy to use music management application and a music store with several years of refinements.

It can slow down the sales of iPods however, especially if Microsoft can somehow make iPods and Apple 'uncool', although Microsoft and 'cool' as an alternative seems laughable. Microsoft's software is also available on over 90% of consumer systems as well, giving them a massive presence they can leverage.

Certainly though we don't want a system where Microsoft steamroller existing good quality offerings with their own (possibly discounted) offering, leaving them with a monopoly in yet another area. It may seem laughable right now with iPods everywhere, but Microsoft have a track record of doing exactly this, and leaving the consumer with a dearth of choice and freedoms.




"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates











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