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Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest maker of software who is trying to tap personal entertainment industry, told financial analysts earlier during the week that it would take up to six years and hundreds of millions of dollars for the Zune media player strategy to become a world-class success.

“This is not a six-month initiative, where somehow in six months we will have captured the marketplace. This will be a four-, five-, six-year investment horizon,” Microsoft entertainment & devices division president Robbie Bach reportedly said, according to EETimes web-site.

Mr. Bach acknowledged that it would take hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to push the Zune ecosystem to the market leading position, where Apple’s iPod and iTunes are now. But Microsoft believes that it has everything for success and does not think that there are any more companies capable of offering similar amounts of investments, energy and experience to challenge for the top spot in personal digital media entertainment space.

“There’s no other company – for better or for worse – that would be trying to get into that business at this time. Nobody else has the optimism, nobody else has the financial resources,” chief executive Steve Balmer said.

The company emphasized that it has no plans to copy the iPod and iTunes tandem, but to add certain functionality, which is unavailable today. Two advanced features to be offered with the Zune players will be video search and social networking allowing recommending or sharing digital content. Another essential capability of Zune players will be ability to connect in various ways to other Microsoft products, including its Xbox 360 gaming system and personal computer software, such as Windows Media Center operating systems, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier it was reported that Microsoft’s Zune player will be available in three colours with a duotone approach on each. The device will contain a hard disk drive as well as some functionality, not currently available on competing products, such as Apple iPod or Creative Zen, including ad-hoc music sharing between a group of people in the range of the device as well as digital radio, thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity. Microsoft Zune 30GB will cost as much as $399, it was reported earlier. Along with the Zune device, Microsoft is expected to launch its new online music store. But while the company will sell content itself, it will not shut down its PlaysForSure strategy and will encourage new members to be part of it.

“We’re going to encourage people to continue working with PlaysForSure and the interfaces that interact with Media Player and all the technologies that are in the core platform of Windows,” Mr. Bach is reported to have claimed. “We’re going to keep working with our partners on those fronts and hope that, between what we do on PlaysForSure and what we do with Zune, we can scale the Windows ecosystem”.

During the meeting, the company also emphasized that it would have three core businesses going forward a decade from now: software for clients and servers, entertainment and online services.

“We’re trying to grow two new cores, one online and one in entertainment,” Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft Corp., is reported to have said according to USA Today.


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