There's been lots of buzz about the rumored plans for a Microsoft competitor to the iPod, with news reports coming out yesterday saying it will be out in time for the holidays this year. The basic story is that Microsoft has gotten sick of waiting for any of its partners to beat the iPod and has decided to just build its own device, taking a page from their success with the Xbox. Nothing too surprising there. However, Engadget has uncovered one juicy tidbit that, if it turns out to be true, is quite interesting. In order to break the stranglehold Apple has on the downloadable music store market thanks to its own copy protection system, Microsoft's will apparently scan your iTunes and allow you to download any tracks you bought from iTunes for free on its own platform. The company, obviously, would then pay the rightsholders for the songs, but according to the article, Microsoft sees this as a worthwhile marketing expense to move people off of iTunes. If it's true, it's definitely a smart move, as there's little likelihood of any other method getting people out of iTunes lock-in. Though, it's not clear if the new songs will be just as locked-in to Microsoft's format, though that seems likely. Of course, we've wondered in the past why other companies (like ISPs) haven't done the same, agreeing to eat the costs on downloads, allowing them to be a loss leader that brings in plenty of new customers.
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