The first handheld gadgets to play music and movies on Microsoft Corp.'s "iPod killer" software will be available in Europe in the second half of 2004, the world's largest software company said on Thursday.
The gadgets will run on Microsoft's yet-to-be-unveiled Portable Media Center software in a direct assault on iPod, Apple Computer Inc.'s hot-selling digital music player.
Working with a host of manufacturing partners, Microsoft is introducing a device that plays movies and stores digital photos as well as songs in a bid to grab a share of the fast-growing digital media player market.
"We think this is going to be one of the hot devices for Christmas 2004," said James Bernard, product manager for Portable Media Center. The U.S. software giant has enlisted Creative Technology Ltd. and Korea's Reigncom Ltd.'s iRiver International unit to develop devices for the European market.
Microsoft said the Creative devices will be available in Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark first, retailing for between 550 euros and 599 euros ($678.50-$738.90) and 399 pounds and 449 pounds ($724-$814.70).
The product will be available in Germany, France, Italy and Spain to follow, but also by year-end, Microsoft said.
Price details and retail launch dates were not available for the iRiver device. Continue at source