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MS to launch final Windows Media Player 10 today

Play for Sure DRM - aka 'Janus' - goes primetime

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Microsoft will announce the final version of its Windows Media 10 software today when it launches Windows XP Media Center 2005.

Central to the announcement is Windows Media Player 10, which integrates MS' latest DRM technology, 'Janus', and, in a bid to appear to be nice to rivals, will include links to other online music stores based on WM 10, not just MS' own, in the player's 'Digital Media Mall'.

WMP 10 was released in September 2004 as a public 'beta' version. Since then, Napster and Virgin Digital have launched WM 10-based music subscription services, which finally allow subscribed content to be copied to compatible portable music players, something impossible with WM 9. Napster, for one, currently charges a premium for this feature, which it offers as its Napster to Go service.

According to a Forbes.com report, HP has tweaked WMP 10 to list iTunes playlists and to fire up the Apple software when users select HPTunes from WMP 10's list of music services.

HP announced last January it would support Apple's iTunes and offer an own-branded iPod. Since then, it has begun bundling iTunes on its consumer PCs, and in September 2004 began selling the iPod+HP

Indeed, Virgin yesterday announced its own Virgin Player 5GB portable, which supports Janus, allowing it to receive subscription-acquired songs - and, presumably, kill them should the user allow their subscription to lapse. Creative's Zen Micro player, due to be launched in the US tonight, we understand, will also support Janus, as does its Portable Media Center device and rival player maker Rio's Carbon. ®

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Apple iPod grabs 82% US retail market share
HP iPod to ship 15 September
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Virgin launches digital music service
Napster unveils portable music service
Microsoft listens to the music

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