New Microsoft Entertainment Products Continue Transformation of Digital Media

The first Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Centers from Creative Labs will be available at electronics retailers throughout the U.S. Portable Media Centers from Samsung Electronics and iRiver International will be available later this fall.

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 2, 2004 — Every once in a while, the dance between trends and technology achieves an almost perfect state of synchronicity that changes the way we experience the world. This may be one of those times. Among the trends: five years ago, less than 13 percent of Internet users had a digital-music file on their computer. Now, 70 percent of computer users listen to music on their PCs. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Last year, more than 100 million digital photos were taken. More and more people are using PCs to view videos. By the end of this year, 9.5 million TV tuner cards will have shipped.

Clearly, digital technology is becoming the driving force behind the way we enjoy entertainment. A series of new products and services from Microsoft, along with services and devices from partners, will play a key role in this ongoing transformation. With the release today of Windows Media Player 10, Portable Media Center, and MSN Music preview, Microsoft is at the heart of a fundamental transformation in the way people create, access and share entertainment.

“Our vision is to deliver a seamless, end-to-end experience for discovering, downloading, and playing music, videos, and more anywhere,” says Jonathan Usher, Microsoft’s director of Windows Digital Media Marketing. “These releases are an important step forward in delivering on that vision.”

Usher says Windows Media Player 10 is central to Microsoft’s digital-media strategy. Media Player 10 makes it significantly easier to perform common digital-media activities, and it offers a built-in online Digital Media Mall, which provides seamless access to leading online stores and services, including MSN Music, CinemaNow, MusicMatch, MusicNow, Napster and Wal-Mart. Windows Media Player 10 also includes support for more than 70 portable devices, and it enables users to automatically copy music, video, pictures, and recorded TV to portable devices.

For its part, MSN Music will play a key role in making it easier for consumers to find and purchase their favorite music and discover new music. With this week’s preview release, MSN Music offers access to more than 1 million tracks from nearly 3,000 record labels.

The Portable Media Center is an entirely new category of handheld devices designed to enable people to enjoy the digital music, TV, movies, and pictures they store on their PCs on a single mobile device. The first Portable Media Center, built by Creative Labs, includes a 3.75-inch screen (9.5 centimeters) and enough storage for 80 hours of video, 5,000 songs, and tens of thousands of pictures.

The simultaneous launch of Windows Media 10, MSN Music, and the Portable Media Center is the result of a coordinated effort spanning more than a year and stretching across a wide range of groups inside and outside of Microsoft.

“Our focus is on enabling customers to discover and play digital media wherever they are,” Usher says. “Achieving this vision has required close collaboration among many partners, both internal and external. In particular, our hats are off to the engineering teams. They’ve pulled off something of a miracle by providing a truly seamless experience while preserving all the choice users expect in a Windows environment.”

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