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Microphone Month 5

The Main Event: Apple vs. Microsoft

No, Jobs and Gates aren’t stepping into the ring with gloves on. Rather, it’s Microsoft’s plans to compete with Apple’s iPod with its own hardware and software solution it’s calling Zune. This follows weeks of rumors regarding the software giant’s intent to step into the music download and portable player war (though at this point, it’s probably more like a skirmish). Microsoft has confirmed that (at least for now) the initial device will have Wi-Fi and will use a hard drive to store music. In a Billboard interview, a company representative said Microsoft is looking at several different delivery system options, including downloading music directly to a device, as well as sampling music from nearby devices. But Zune-branded devices are apparently only one part of Microsoft’s strategy. The broader vision is to allow people to play and discover music from a variety of devices including computers, phones and the Xbox 360. Not surprisingly, Apple (which currently controls the marketplace by a wide margin) declined to comment on Microsoft’s announcement.

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