Microsoft Unleases Three Way Attack To Control Media Marketplace

mslogo6487dcIn a major (and long expected) move to integrate and control how we purchase and enjoy music, film, and all digital media Microsoft has just announced:

WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER 10 – A free download that includes these new features:

Sleek New Design. A streamlined and sleek new design delivers a fresh new look and improved ease of use, including faster access to top Player tasks. The most important Player features are now in a more prominent position in the library, enabling you to accomplish everyday digital media tasks all in one convenient place and to take advantage of the powerful capabilities of the Player while browsing the library.

Choice of Online Stores. Introducing the first “Digital Media Mall,” enabling you to discover, download, rent, or stream music and video within the Player from a choice of online stores. These stores benefit from deeper integration with and customization within the Player to enhance their functionality and ease of use.

Enhanced Device Support. A wide selection of devices are supported with this release, including a host of current portable music players and new Portable Media Center devices that will be available later this year. A major component of this rich device support includes a new feature called Auto Sync that enables the seamless, automatic synchronization of music, video, and even recorded TV and photos to supported portable devices.

Improved All-in-One Smart Jukebox. The Windows Media Player 10 technical beta builds upon the award-winning Windows Media Player 9 Series technology, delivering fast and flexible playback, improved audio and video quality, and smart jukebox features designed to save you time and effort.

THE PORTABLE MEDIA CENTER which resembles Microsoft’s Windows Media Center OS for PCs, with a very similar user interface, but it’s designed to be used with a small-screen device. Portable Media Center devices, which will be designed and manufactured by Microsoft’s hardware partners, have hard drives for storing and playing back media files. “This is an entirely new category of devices,” says James Bernard, lead product manager with Microsoft’s Portable Media Centers group. “They are not meant to replace audio players. There will always be people with audio players.”

THE MSN MUSIC STORE following in the footsteps of iTunes, MusicMatch and others. Hypebot’s first look found few if any distinguishing features.

The real story is not in any one of these initiatives by Microsoft, but in how they fit together. Ease of use is exactly what most music and media consumers have been looking for. SCORE 1 POINT: GATES.

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