appears to have the scoop on Microsoft's plans for an iPod-killing device. The details sure make for juicy gossip.
It's alleged that the project is being worked on by J Allard, the previous poster-boy for the Xbox project. Having successfully launched against big players like Nintendo and Sony, rumours are that Microsoft considers J the man to take on Apple. His absence from recent Xbox duties have been noted in the gaming press worldwide.
The device will be Microsoft branded and will integrate seamlessly with Windows and Windows Media Player, as well as a music service operated directly by Microsoft. One of Apple's perceived advantages is its ability to control the entire music purchasing and playing experience, through iTunes and iPod. Up until now, Microsoft has tried to create an ecosystem through its software and hardware partners, but has pretty much failed.
The device will sport WiFi. This will make for wireless transfers between your PC and your portable player, as well as downloads from remote locations. The player will also have a social networking capability, allowing users to chat to each other and possibly share music in a limited fashion. It will also integrate with Xbox Live.
The player will obviously support video, and it will have a screen bigger than the current iPod video.
What's most interesting is Engadget's assertion that Microsoft will be going for the jugular by offering free Windows versions of iTunes tracks that users have purchased. Microsoft's service will scan your iTunes library for DRM'd tracks that you've paid for from Apple, then give you those for free on its own service. MS will have to pay the royalties to record labels, but you won't have to pay a penny. Talk about an incentive to switch!
The device may hit shelves in November.
Of course, this could all be pie in the sky, but it's sure as heck interesting. Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.