August 30, 2005

Microsoft's Music DRM Gets Setback

Inquirer: The Inquirer posits that with the Rio MP3 player leaving the market left "Creative Technology with its Zen players as the major flagship for Windows based players"...and this "makes it more likely that the mobile phone industry's DRM 1.0 standard will therefore emerge as the true rival to Apple's Fairplay DRM (as used by iTunes)." I'm sure Microsoft has some plans to deal with this...

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August 14, 2005

Microsoft, Apple in iPod patent tussle This is down and dirty: In a ruling issued last month, a patent examiner rejected Apple's attempt to patent some of the user interface concepts behind the popular digital music player, noting that Microsoft developer John Platt filed for similar claims five months before Apple did.
A Microsoft executive noted on Friday that the company is always open to licensing its technology.

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August 11, 2005

Microsoft Pushes For New Players To Rival iPod

Bloomberg: Microsoft is pushing for new music players for the end-of-year shopping season. It is working with electronics makers such as Philips, Samsung and Creative to design and test music players that rival iPod, said Erik Huggers, the head of Microsoft's Digital Media Division.
Microsoft said in June that its Xbox game console chief, Robbie Bach, has also been tasked with overseeing Microsoft's digital music efforts in a bid to better coordinate the work of several different Microsoft units in this area. The software giant has opened laboratories to make sure that new devices are easy to use and fast enough to attract new consumers, Huggers said.

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July 27, 2005

Microsoft Ups The Ante

CNET: Adding to our recent post about Apple's nod to independent artists and as if on cue, Microsoft has also suddenly agreed to provide indies with a greater royalty rate from online music sales...According to the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) - which is a new trade group for independent labels - indies currently account for 27.5 percent of music sales in the US, and up to one-third of online listening on Internet radio and other venues...With numbers like that - this growing segment is getting harder and harder to discriminate against in regards to royalty rates for digital downloads...Especially now that they have an industry trade group to help represent them.

According to A2IM director Don Rose, "Microsoft has also agreed to bring small labels as close to parity with the majors as possible, both for its existing download service and the subscription service it plans to launch later this year." The uplifting news comes after years of being treated as second-class citizens by the major online music services, but these are smart moves by Apple and Microsoft as they strategize on how to become more "indie-friendly." This is surely the best thing they could have done to improve relations, because the music world has changed dramatically since iTunes...Peter Gordon, president of Thirsty Ear Recordings adds, "If you look at the confluence of factors in the market, you have the majors retreating and trying to develop a strategy, and you have indies being able to expand in the market."

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July 08, 2005

Microsoft's New Digital Music Personalization Patent

InfoWorld: I wouldn't read too much into it right now, but keep an eye out for it...A patent granted to Microsoft this week hints at the invention of new technology for personalizing searches for online media, particularly music titles. The patent, granted July 5, is for a method that can train people to analyze media and apply "fundamental properties" that can be matched to computerized analysis such as DSP (digital signal processing).
Such technology might be used to personalize an e-commerce user's search for online music on, or may be integrated into a highly intelligent search engine that can identify similar music according to how a song actually sounds, according to this story.

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June 16, 2005

Microsoft Hopes New Leadership Will Boost Music Division

WSJ: Microsoft's Chief Executive, Steve Ballmer is looking to 43-year-old Senior Vice President Robbie Bach to revamp Microsoft's digital-music strategy. The Journal reports that Bach, who is a 16-year Microsoft veteran that heads Microsoft's Xbox videogame unit, will take on the additional role in music in addition to overseeing strategy for some other consumer markets...While the Xbox has admittedly been a money loser, it's also considered a popular success with a widely recognized name brand and is the closest thing Microsoft has to an iPod...

Mr. Ballmer, speaking about the digital music strategy in a recent interview, conceded, "I do think that we should have pushed - could have pushed - harder on our device integration sooner." He added, "We won't make that mistake again."

Microsoft sees cellphones as an important way to answer the iPod and tackle the digital music market and its latest mobile-phone software, Windows Mobile 5.0, contains support for adding into cellphones the same kinds of hard drives that are used in the iPod and other mobile music players...(Subscription required)

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June 09, 2005

Microsoft Forced To Unbundle Media Player

NetImperative: Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it will release a version of its Windows operating system without the Media Player application on June 15 to comply with European Union anti-monopoly rules and the revamped software will be made available to computer makers next week in five language versions - available for retailers July 1...Ten additional language versions will go on sale in July.....This move is expected to create a more level playing field for market rivals and is a direct result of the European Commission's previous ruling ordering Microsoft to strip its Windows Media Player from the OS so that computer makers can buy other software to play films and music from competitors. As part of the compliance, the software giant was also forced to make a few additional changes to the OS to keep the Commission happy - including removing music sample files (in the Windows audio format) from the 'My Music' folder and removing Windows Movie Maker...However, the 'N' software (nickname for the new Windows XP Home Edition N and Professional Edition N) will not cost any less than regular Windows, so I don't see how these antitrust remedies are useful from the consumer's perspective...

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May 12, 2005

Gates Sees Mobile Phones Overtaking iPods

Reuters: Bill Gates has predicted that mobile phones will overtake the iPod as the portable MP3 player of choice...a statement which should be completely unsurprising to anybody. "As good as Apple may be, I don't believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run...You can make parallels with computers: Apple was very strong in this field before, with its Macintosh and its graphics user interface -- like the iPod today -- and then lost its position," Gates said. The cofounder of Microsoft went on to say that Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 will "make wireless e-mail ubiquitous"... Related stories: --Mobile Phones Accused Of Planning iPod Death --Engadget Interviews Bill Gates --Will Music Enabled Cell Phones Replace MP3 Players?

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May 10, 2005

Microsoft Phone Software Runs Hard Drives

Yahoo:  Several months after its anticipated release, Microsoft today released a new version of its mobile phone software (Windows Mobile 5.0.) with the ability to run miniature hard drives and new features like a walkie-talkie style push-to-talk. "Support for hard drives could also turn phones into multimedia devices that could store music and video, potentially taking the place of a separate cell phone and a separate digital music device - such as Apple's iPod music player..."

--Windows Mobile 5.0 = Windows Mobile 2005
--Windows Mobile 2005 (aka Magneto) LEAKED!
--Microsoft Unveils New Windows Mobile


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April 27, 2005

EU Says It Will Take Steps if Microsoft Doesn't Comply

Yahoo: "The EU's anti-trust chief met Microsoft's CEO in Brussels today and warned him that the tech giant must stop abusing Windows' virtual monopoly or face action, the European Commission said....If Microsoft fails to comply with the EU's decision, the company could ultimately face daily fines of up to $5 million, which is 5 percent of its worldwide daily turnover."

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