Jan Ferme


Microsoft making better music?

When it comes to music, mighty Microsoft is the underdog.

For the company that dominates PC operating systems, desktop software suites and e-mail software and has a darn good business in everything from databases to video games, it’s an unaccustomed label.Can the latest version of Microsoft’s music software, Windows Media Player 11, be the first in many steps to dropping that underdog tag? While there’s little question that Apple Computer is the company to beat in digital music, technology critics and analysts say Microsoft is starting to get its act together.

Last week, a test version of WMP 11, the company’s latest digital jukebox software, was compared favorably by critics to Apple’s iTunes. Technology critic Paul Thurrott, for example, gushed in a review on his Web site that despite being an avid iTunes user, he found himself “drawn to Windows Media Player 11” because it “offers dramatically better performance” than iTunes.

So what’s to like? Industry insiders cheered the close partnerships Microsoft formed with MTV Networks and iRiver. Redmond helped designed Urge, MTV’s new subscription music service, and plans to include it in WMP 11. In addition, Microsoft made sure WMP 11 worked seamlessly inside Clix, iRiver’s digital music player–the first to feature WMP 11—which also hit the market last week.

Many critics say it’s a big improvement over what Microsoft has done in the past, but there’s no question Bill Gates & Co. have a long way to go to catch their decades-old rival in this realm.

Riiight, I can’t believe that. 😀

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