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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Microsoft makes mobile media push
Image of the Creative Zen portable media center
You could be watching TV on your portable player
As Microsoft unveiled its MSN Music service, hardware firms have shown off gadgets that work with the new service.

Widely seen as rivals to Apple's iTunes and iPod the portable media players from Creative Labs, Samsung and iRiver will play music, video, TV and show still images.

The devices are designed to work with MSN Music and the latest version of Microsoft's Media Player software.

The first gadgets are available now but more will follow in the Autumn.

Press play

The handheld that has gone on sale first is Creative Labs' Zen portable media center.

CREATIVE ZEN SPECS
20GB hard drive
Holds 9,000 songs or 85 hours of video
Seven hours of video playback
22 hours of audio playback
3.8inch screen
Companion handhelds from Samsung and iRiver are due to be unveiled later in the year. All will work with Windows Media Player 10 software.

All the 20GB versions of the gadgets are expected to cost $499 in the US.

The gadgets were unveiled as Microsoft revealed details of a MSN Music download service that lets people download songs for 99 cents (55p).

While there are many other portable media players already on sale, from firms such as Archos, Microsoft is rolling together a package of services, websites and specially created content in a bid to tempt people into using its technology. At the core of this push is the Windows Media Player.

Microsoft is also keen to portray the devices as much more than just music stores and has signed up several partners to provide movies and TV footage for these portable players.

Close-up of iPod menu, Apple
Apple's iPod has proved very popular
Providing services for the media players will be the movie website CinemaNow and the Major League Baseball (MLB) site.

CinemaNow is planning a pay-to-rent system that will make a portable version of any rented film available to customers buying or renting PC versions of films. Portable versions are expected to cost 99 cents.

MLB is planning to make available full game downloads as well as highlights, home run reel, classic footage and programmes made just for viewing on the gadgets.

Microsoft is also working with TV card makers on a system that will make it possible to watch recorded TV shows on the portable devices without the need for converting the recording to a special format.

Content will be locked using Microsoft's Janus copy protection system.

Creative is planning a UK launch for its media player in mid-September. Other European nations will follow later. There is no information available about the European availability of the other players.

However, it is not yet clear if Microsoft is planning to set up movie and sports services outside the US.


SEE ALSO:
Rivals challenge iPod's dominance
17 May 04  |  Technology
Apple shows off new iMac in Paris
31 Aug 04  |  Technology
Fight for the right to copy
20 Aug 04  |  Technology
Westlife top first download chart
01 Sep 04  |  Entertainment
Singles boost as UK music grows
23 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
Newspaper CD giveaways attacked
16 Aug 04  |  Entertainment


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