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iPod-for-WinXP beta software due ‘within weeks’

Hooks into IE, Windows Media Player

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Mediafour, the company behind XPod, the first commercial attempt to connect Apple's iPod MP3 player to Windows, hopes to release a public beta of the software "within a couple of weeks", a company spokeswoman said today.

The existence of XPod emerged this week following the arrival of the iPod on US store shelves last weekend. Officially, iPod is a Mac-only product. Restricting the device's use in this way is all part of Apple's drive to win over users to the Mac platform, though it's interesting that the company hasn't totally ruled out Windows support being added at some point in the future.

Central to the iPod experience, says Apple, is its iTunes digital music manager application. Mediafour will not be offering a true iTunes clone for Windows, said the spokeswoman. "We are currently working to provide a simple Explorer-based interface for exchange of files, in addition to plug-in functionality for Windows Media Player," she told us.

Neither approach will bypass Apple's anti-piracy initiatives, she stressed. "We're not out to undo the 'keep the honest people honest' approach Apple has taken with regard to music rights protection," she said. "We foresee the final release of XPod maintaining a similar level of protection to that employed by iPod and iTunes."

The iPod hides transferred music files in an invisible directory on its internal 1394 hard drive, and the device has been set not to allow iTunes users to extract music from another user's iPod.

Mediafour would not give a release date for the final version of XPod, or provide a price. "We intend to price it very affordably," was all the spokeswoman would say. ®

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