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The world’s largest maker of software Microsoft Corp. is reportedly creating a platform, that would rival Apple Computer’s iPod and iTunes. While no technological details are known, it is claimed that the technology would be released by Christmas season.

A news-story by Reuters news-agency claims that the new player, which Microsoft Corp. has been touting to record companies in the last few weeks, will let users download music and videos over the air, something, which iPod players cannot do. What Microsoft is trying to invent, is not just a digital device, but a tandem of hardware and media store that compliment each other, like Apple’s iTunes compliments the company’s iPod player.

The news-agency further claims that Robbie Bach, appointed president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division in December, is working with J. Allard, vice president of its Xbox team, on the unnamed digital media player/software project, according to a source close to Microsoft. It is unknown, however, whether the device will be able to play games.

Microsoft has been trying to address the market of consumer electronics for years now and have been quite successful with its Xbox console so far. Nevertheless, music player business can be significantly different than video game business and, for example, Sony, which also sells digital music players and content, has not gain popularity on the market. Microsoft may also have plans to introduce a base platform for third-party hardware makers to make actual devices, whereas Microsoft would concentrate on software and content sides of the business.

Analysts believe that for Microsoft to have any chance of competing with Apple in the next year, the software giant will need to have a player and service ready in time for the Christmas season, seen as crucial for the success of any consumer electronics launch, it is reported.

Microsoft did not comment on the news-story.

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