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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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Apples and Argos
By nitschke65 on 7/11/2006 1:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
From what I’m reading now, the “Ipod Killer” is not going to be a simple music player, storage device, video gimmick. I didn’t stop liking bananas when I discovered oranges.
Getting an idea of how the front of this thing looks, nothing spectacular in my opinion, is only a tiny portion of the appeal it will garner in the marketplace. Apple has never given up on the most important aspect of a portable music player... they're PORTABLE! Obviously the screen on the video Ipod is too small (I own the 30gb) but it's not meant to replace my portable dvd player. The fact that I can watch old episodes of “Dragnet” on something I carry in my pocket is just a cute little extra. Seeing the pic of this MS prototype, I wonder if it will slip easily into my pocket. I also wonder if, when I first actually pick one up, if it will feel substantial in my hands. I hate cheaply produced products that feel like they'll break if I look at them the wrong way. As far as I'm concerned, Apple puts more design quality in their packaging than MS puts in their products.
I am writing this on my Toshiba Windows XP laptop, I also have a home made Windows XP tower (so I’m no MS hater) and a Apple g5 Imac. I use each on a regular basis and am lucky to be able to pick the machine best suited for what I’m doing. If someone wants one portable device to do everything, they’ll have to prioritize and pick the best product for their own needs. Asking a single hand held unit to do everything this “Argo” or “Zune” “Ipod killer” is supposedly going to do, process it all smoothly, and interface well, seems like a pipe dream to me.
If this were a power tool forum and we were discussing Toro's newest snow blower, I guess we'd have to complain about how you can't cut grass with it.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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