Feeds

MS ‘Windows for iPod’ delayed but still marks death of PDA

And if Microsoft doesn't do it, Apple will

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Microsoft's 'Windows for iPods' operating system appears to be taking longer to ship than the company previously forecast.

The software giant yesterday said it was working on system software for handheld media players. Now called Portable Media Center, it's a Windows CE.NET variant that will ship in devices "in the second half of 2004", according to Microsoft.

The Beast readily admits that PMC is a re-named Media2Go, the Windows CE.NET-based system it began talking up earlier this year at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. Back then, in January, the company said devices based on the platform would "reach store shelves toward the end of 2003".

Whether the delay is a result of Microsoft's coding schedule or simply because licensees - including Creative, Viewsonic, iRiver, Sanyo, Samsung and Tatung - want more time to design hardware and debug products before shipping them in time for either the 'back to school' sales period or Christmas next year, isn't known.

Essentially, the PMC is a handheld music player - primarily WMA 9, but also MP3 - that can also show movies and record TV shows, TiVo-fashion. It will also allow users to store all their digital photos.

Of course, we can do all this already using a PC, but Microsoft reckons it's a logical extension of that activity to want to take content with us when we're on the move. PDAs can already make a pretty decent stab at mobile media playback, but Microsoft's own Pocket PC format leaves too much to be desired on the battery life front for it to morph into a video iPod just yet. PDAs also need hard drive storage.

With the PDA already threatened from smartphones, might iPod-style devices also help pull the rug from under the format's feet? Certainly, the iPod now has basic PIM facilities - enough, at any rate, to display data that has been entered into the system via a host PC. With my calendar and contacts sync'd onto my iPod, do I need to carry my Palm too? It's certainly easier to drop PIM data onto an iPod than carry enough memory cards to make the PDA a worthwhile music centre.

It's not too hard to imagine the addition of pen-based text entry - offered by Mac OS X for over a year now - or a phone-style keypad or Blackberry-esque micro keyboard. Equally, upgrading its screen and software for video playback is possible now.

Such a system also neatly dovetails with the Personal Server concept Intel has been playing with of late. Chuck in wireless for localised file sharing and things start getting very interesting indeed.

Oddly enough, rumours have been circulating about a video iPod for some time now - it was expected by some to debut this past summer - but Apple's mooted tablet-style display system is more interesting as a broader home media platform.

Whatever Apple is working on, Microsoft's delay will give it more time to get the thing out and onto the market. For its part, Microsoft will have versions of Windows Mobile that run on all the key portable platforms - smartphones, PDAs and, next year, media devices - so it's covered whichever way the market goes. All three, probably, with the PDA increasingly being squeezed by the other two - until PalmOne or Sony starts building hard drives into Tungstens, Zires or Cliés, at which point the two platforms become one.

Exit the classic Personal Digital Assistant, stage left. Enter the Personal Media Assistant, shouting... ®

Related Stories

MS, Intel talk up portable video players
Dell debuts iPod killer, music store

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.