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New details emerge on Microsoft Argo/Zune player

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
News Categories: iPod

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Further interesting details and the first alleged picture of Microsoft’s “iPod killer” were leaked this week. Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley, citing a source close to the project, claims the Microsoft device is part of “a complete line of Xbox-branded digital-media products, including a device that plays media, a software media player and an online media service.” He says the project is being referred to internally at Microsoft by the code name “Argo.” Gizmodo, however, received a tip claiming that the Microsoft player was code-named “Zune” and said that it wasn’t likely to have gaming features. Meanwhile, Engadget scored the first purported photo of the device, which features a vertically oriented 4:3 aspect screen and iPod-like controls and styling.

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Comments

1

Apple fanboys attack in 3… 2… 1…

Posted by Ron Yu on July 11, 2006 at 6:55 AM (PDT)

2

As I said elsewhere:  The true strength of this product will be evident when it’s powered up.  Several products look good as or better than the iPod, but the software makes the real difference.

Posted by Gordy. in Atlanta, GA on July 11, 2006 at 7:06 AM (PDT)

3

Screw the click wheel approach…make the whole front a 16:9 touch screen, with virtual click wheel. And blue tooth for wireless headphones…build that and they will come.

Posted by pooty on July 11, 2006 at 7:20 AM (PDT)

4

Microsoft reminds me of the early days of the Soviet Republic. Find something that works and copy it. Bill Gates just has to get into something that works, and put out a second rate product as usual.
Pooty…good idea..don’t let Gates find out.

Posted by Dragn on July 11, 2006 at 7:33 AM (PDT)

5

I am surprised it took until 7:33 for the first hyperbolic metaphor to surface in the comments thread.

Posted by Gitzlaff on July 11, 2006 at 7:46 AM (PDT)

6

this picture doesn’t show its size so i don’t even know if this compares to an ipod. but i agree that functionality is far more important than features so it’s too early to make any judgements. but that is a nice big screen. hope the battery can last without making it too huge.

Posted by jm on July 11, 2006 at 7:46 AM (PDT)

7

Yay! Now we can get blue screens of death on the go!

Posted by Nobody on July 11, 2006 at 8:17 AM (PDT)

8

Nobody, I’ve not seen a BSOD in about 5 years, and that was because *my* code in an unsupported emulator managed to blow up Win2K. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve crashed XP (with no BSOD). This is only slightly higher than how many times I’ve crashed Linux. However, I need more fingers and toes than I have to count how many times I’ve crashed OSX.

Given that I log dozens of times more hours under XP versus OSX, I have no fears that an MS player will be at least as stable as the iPod.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on July 11, 2006 at 8:28 AM (PDT)

9

this looks very nice, if it got PMC (portable media center) OS on it, then goodbye to iPod.  check out Toshiba gigabeat S players to see how simple and friendly is PMC.  maybe they make it where you can buy music off xbox 360, that would be wicked!

Posted by slayer on July 11, 2006 at 8:58 AM (PDT)

10

I think the player looks pretty good, though I didn’t expect it to look quite so iPod like. I expected it to look rugged and for it to be stylized more like the Xbox.
(I expected the premiere unit to be black and maybe textured and ruggidized, maybe resembling the Xbox. Then again, maybe they’ll choose not to associate the unit with the Xbox.)

But still, it looks classy and I like the accent around the screen and clickwheel (didn’t expect it to have a clickwheel either).

The only other criticism I have at this point is that the “play/pause” button and the “back” button are small, placed far apart, and placed in an area that might be awkward to push if you’re holding the unit with one hand. I’m not sure if the ease of use is there.

Posted by Thomas on July 11, 2006 at 9:09 AM (PDT)

11

” ...at least as stable as the iPod…”

I HOPE this is an oversight, because before the iPod, I have NEVER had a DAP or any other kind of music-playing device crash on me.

Then again, before my XBox, I have never had a console crash on me either!

Microsoft has to remember that it will take more than aesthetics to dent the iPod’s dominance. They need to create a whole experience that is just as painless to use as iTunes/iPod’s.

In all honesty, I kinda prefer the way Media Player handles media especially video clips compared to iTunes, it’s just Window’s architecture that gets in the way. It would also be nice (but unlikely) if Microsoft could create a FULLY FUNCTIONAL version of Media Player for other OSes too!

Just as Microsoft succeeded with the XBox in the face of all the naysayers, they just might make an impact with THIS device.

Posted by ahMEmon on July 11, 2006 at 9:21 AM (PDT)

12

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! this is hilarious, we need stuff like this for good humor.  An “ipod killer”?!?!?!?!?!  thats the funniest thing i have heard in a long time.  everyone ready for microsoft to fail miserably? AGAIN and trying to compete with itunes? good luck mr. gates… you will need it… SELL YOUR STOCK IF YOU HAVE IT!!!

Posted by mike on July 11, 2006 at 10:46 AM (PDT)

13

It seems like every other month someone is releasing a new “iPod killer.”  In order to get any sort of amdirable stake in the market, though, MS is going to have to sell it at cost.  In addition to a brand name, the iPod appears to have cheaper components than Apple buys in monstrously large lots.

It’s also worth noting that the iPod runs a full-out embedded OS.  Win CE is much more thorough, but in being so is more bloated and bug-prone.  To address one poster, it will be difficult for MS to make it as stable as the iPod unless they use a non-CE solution.

Posted by JP on July 11, 2006 at 10:54 AM (PDT)

14

I followed the photo page to blurry pictures of what looks like a commercial for the product. While it has somewhat successfully copied the sleek and simplistic design tactics that garnered iPod and the PS2 its dominance, those pictures that actually show something on the screen make it look an awfully lot like a PocketPC. That, combined with it being online compatible, makes me think that this is less a digital media player than a PDA with a bigger harddrive. Also, from what I can see, it’s screen looks like the Media Player Classic interface (with the black box part at the bottom identifying what’s playing and the top part devoted to the video). Unless you can remove the black part at the bottom and orient it differently, it seems like the video will be just as big as what the iPod currently offers except with some unnecessary crap at the bottom.

Posted by Devil Neville on July 11, 2006 at 11:01 AM (PDT)

15

If the music service is iTunes music shop-like, (i.e. being able to keep music without a subscription), Microsoft has a chance if they can produce key innovations.  Wi-Fi connectivity alone could be an iPod killer.  Being able to update libraries without plugging in, or even maybe being able to stream music from other Argos would be significant innnovations over the iPod.  Perhaps purchasing could be done straight from the Argo, from any computer with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Posted by housingservices on July 11, 2006 at 11:59 AM (PDT)

16

I’d be fine with this working out, especially if Microsoft swaps out my IMS songs. BUT I hope it can be used with something other than Windows Media Player.

And maybe they’ll figure out a good way for it to play in my car!

Posted by superape on July 11, 2006 at 12:18 PM (PDT)

17

Man, Bill Gates is a master…


....at just barely avoiding copyright infringement! Oh!

Posted by The Fotografer on July 11, 2006 at 12:19 PM (PDT)

18

thats the uglyiest thing I have even seen!

Posted by BETTY KOYLE on July 11, 2006 at 12:29 PM (PDT)

19

“I need more fingers and toes than I have to count how many times I’ve crashed OSX.”

Code Monkey, you’re such a friggin’ troll.

Posted by The Raven on July 11, 2006 at 12:33 PM (PDT)

20

The Raven, I’m with you there, Code Monkey has always been this way though…I think the player looks like ####, not because I like the iPod and all, but come on beige?? who uses that color anymore, as well as the controls looking way too small and spread too far apart.  Other thing is I doubt this POS will run in OS X which leaves out a lot of potential customers…But Billy Boy will never learn.

Posted by Matrixsjd on July 11, 2006 at 1:28 PM (PDT)

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