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Culture

Killer rumors surround Microsoft music player

The rumors are flying fast and furious when it comes to Microsoft's plans to release its own music player in an effort to better counter Apple Computer's dominant iPod.

One of the most tantalizing rumors is that Microsoft may look to offer those who buy its device compatible versions of all of the iTunes tracks they own. That would cost the software maker a bundle, but Microsoft may believe that is what it takes to make its player competitive. Plus, as many bloggers have noted, iTunes-purchased tracks tend to make up just a fraction of the tracks on the typical user's iPod.

Another report, from the Seattle Times, says the player is part of a broader digital media effort, code-named Argo, that will see a number of products under the Xbox brand. Steering Argo (which is a mythological Greek warship), is Xbox co-creator J. Allard.

Meanwhile, Engadget has posted what it believes may be stills from a video for a commercial for said would-be iPod attacker. Warning: The images are blurry enough to make you dizzy, as the site prominently notes. If you have a weaker stomach, this photo, also on Engadget, is supposedly one of the options being considered.

And of course all of the rumors tend to focus on the device being able to download content wirelessly and being on shelves in time for the holiday shopping season, thereby making it an "iPod Killer"--the most overused phrase in all of techdom.

Now, I love a frenzy as much as the next person, but remember that Origami turned out to be a pricey little tablet PC with not much more battery life than a standard PC.

Let's remember a few more things. First, going into the music player business was not Microsoft's first choice. The company has considered this several times in the past few years and opted to let its hardware partners try and outdo Apple. Assuming the company is making this move, it is because it perceives its current strategy (and the ones before that) to be failing to make headway.

And while the prospect of wirelessly downloading tunes and/or TV shows is neat, such abilities add cost and are likely to add to the drain on already-too-short battery life. So don't mind me if I don't just yet.

Plus, Apple may also have its own wireless iPod come the Winter Solstice.