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Microsoft's Handheld Codenamed Argo

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the break-out-the-oars dept.


The Seattle Times reports that details on Microsoft's handheld gaming/music device are finally slipping out. The Argo project looks to be Microsoft's hedge against angry analysts, upset that the next versions of Office and Windows have slipped yet again. From the article: "As reported last week, initially by Bloomberg News, the device is expected to go on sale by Christmas. It has Wi-Fi capability so it can connect wirelessly to home and public networks and other players. Wi-Fi sounds like a big deal if you're comparing the player to the wire-bound iPod. But this is more than just another MP3 player. It will also compete with game players from Sony and Nintendo that have long had Wi-Fi and work as media players, Internet terminals and communication devices. Argo is likely to showcase another Allard project — XNA, a new toolkit that helps game developers create titles for multiple platforms."

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Umm... (4, Interesting)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694047)

A bit off topic, but I fail to see why this article would appear under the Apple section. I suppose one could agrue that because it likely is a product made to go tete-a-tete with an Apple product, one might want it mentioned there. But shouldn't this be under Microsoft's section? Or handhelds?

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694308)

Its in the Apple section in order to attract the maximum amount of flamage.

Then Ballmer THREW A CHAIR!!!1 HA HA HA *SNORT* (please kill me)

Re:Umm... (2, Insightful)

SalaciousPucker (911419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694892)

If this is what is being described, it is going against what the Ipod & PSP SHOULD be now, rather then what they are. Right now the Ipod is for music. The PSP does everything, but nothing good. What the market wants (and don't know it) is true convergence, the one device to unite them all...the OS of the pocket.

It's hard to be humble, but I have to hand it to myself in a post from May 28th....

Apple should be in handheld gaming. They should be shooting for the inevitable, a true convergence of the handheld market. That uber-Phone/PDA/Ipod/Gameboy - all in one - that geeks have dreamed about since the Star Trek communicator.

Apple sells the most expensive device in our pockets right now. It has mass storage, a color screen, significant processing power and it's own OS. Of all the pocket based systems, the Ipod requires the least additional work to accomodate the features of all the others. What you have then is the OS of the pocket.

Still, the path to obscurity or to becoming the overpriced but efficient 'niche' product, like Apple computers have always been to the PC, could be Apple going it alone in all aspects. Taking a leap into handheld gaming would mean directly competing with Sony and Nintendo in a cut throat & solidified market. They would have two options really, as I see it. Build the gaming OS/API's themselves (a tough route) or license it from Sony (the PSP) or Nintendo. How open Sony or Nintendo would be to digital distribution of its games or handing off much of the reins to Apple is questionable, but there is definitely some synergy for a collaboration like this.

Apple should move quick on this. The talk about Microsoft's new IPod/XBOX-handheld product is already in the 'when' not 'if' stage. Microft could care less about builiding the different handheld products individually or as a whole -- they want to own the OS it all runs on. They want to be there at the point of convergence. If Apple doesn't secure their position here it could be a situation of deja vu all over again.

http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=186874&c id=15420215 [slashdot.org]

Re:Umm... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696194)

Right now the Ipod is for music. The PSP does everything, but nothing good.

I don't want my iPod to do anything but play music. It's great for it.

My PSP is very fun for playing Katamari & GTA, and also plays my Doctor Who videos in wide-screen mode when I'm away from home. Nothing against the DS Lite, which a great little game box, but I'm very happy with the PSP so far.

Pardon me for not having much faith in Microsoft to come up with something that does any of those tasks better.

My eyes deceive me... (5, Funny)

VikingThunder (924574) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694050)

Did I read that correctly? The media forgot to call it an ipod-killer!? Heads are going to roll down at the Seattle Times.

Re:My eyes deceive me... (1)

Doches (761288) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694085)

I think the issue is that they can't decide what it's supposed to kill. It's an iPod that acts as a cell phone, digital camera, Gameboy, universal remote, garage door opener, GPS unit, all while running off wireless power!

I'm calling it a Fry's Killer.

Re:My eyes deceive me... (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694103)

Did I read that correctly? The media forgot to call it an ipod-killer!? Heads are going to roll down at the Seattle Times.

Not at all. Haven't you noticed that calling something an "iPod Killer" is the kiss of death?

I know if I were a portable device maker the last thing I'd want the media to do is decide my device is an "iPod Killer". I'd rather let the consumers decide that by making a device that appeal to them (you know, like the iPod itself).


Re:My eyes deceive me... (1)

Traiklin (901982) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696159)

Everything is called *Insert biggest thing* killer

every FPS that came out after Halo was dubbed the "Halo Killer" and not one of them worked.

Every MP3 player that came out after the iPod was dubbed an "iPod killer" they never managed to put a dent in it.

it never fails, whenever there is something big people will associate The Next Big Thing from a Big Company as the killer of the competing product.

I doubt this will hurt sales of the iPod or PSP in any way, The main point is that you know it is going to cost more then a laptop, if they plan on including everything they say it will have there's no way they can have it compete with the PSP or the video iPod.

Here you go: (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694217)

Presenting the next-generation iPod killer.

(Redmond, WA) Today amid thunderous applause, Microsoft's CEO Steven Balmer has unveiled the 'bigger, better, stronger,' next-generation PDA/mediaplayer nicknamed Argo, designed from the ground-up to address customer needs and built upon numerous shortcoming of its rival iPod.

Argo features a consumer-replacable 400 VAC lead acid battery, not only cheap to replace, but also ultra-portable at 10 lb.

Living up to its reputation for building sold, reliable hardware, Microsoft has included a sturdy 1/8" titanium cover housing a 7000 RPM double ball-bearing fan for a cooler, quieter performance akin to XBox-360.

Addressing consumer outcry for easier ways to combat piracy, the company included a Genuine-Advantaged Clippy. Never fear Jack Sparrow, for Clippy is on the lookout: 'Looks like you'd like to purchase a non-pirated copy...'

Addressing iPod's lack of backward compatibility, the msPod features both RS232/LTP and RJ12 ports (from winmodem) easily accessible from the front.

Argo is designed to be compatible with the future software and hardware, which includes expandability options via internal PCI/ISA slot. And a built-in ATA/66 controller (IDE cable/power adapter not included) allows those nerds to take their 3.5"-HD-stored library on the go!

As always, the customer support is Microsoft's top priority, and the included activation reminder will let buyers continue using their msPod for 14 days without registering. Helpfully, it will periodically stop your song to remind you to register!

In unrelated news, a local Redmond furniture company filed for the chapter-9 protection.

Re:My eyes deceive me... (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695096)

Heads are going to roll down at the Seattle Times.

You misspelled "chairs are going to fly."

Re:My eyes deceive me... (1)

e. boaz (67350) | more than 7 years ago | (#15699809)

No, no, no. Heads are not going to roll down at the Seattle Times. The heads will get mangled into squishy, bloody, grey blobs by the flying chairs and their leader, Mr. Ballmer.

AirTunes (3, Insightful)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694077)

"Wi-Fi sounds like a big deal if you're comparing the player to the wire-bound iPod."

Not exactly the same result, but AirTunes [apple.com] provides something most of us simply want...

Re:AirTunes (2, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694232)

I've been waiting for the day when the iPod will have WiFi capabilities that allow it to beam music to an Airport Express module via AirTunes, and then on to the stereo. The iPod then becomes not just the source of the music, but a wireless remote control for it as well. I believe that such things exist - add ons for the iPod Dock, etc. - but I don't think they use WiFi (and so have reduced range or are just line-of-sight), nor can they display the iPod menus to you as you navigate the music collection.

Imagine hosting a party, walking from room to room, shmoozing, with your iPod in your pocket. You want to change the music playing throughout the house, you just pull it out and flick through the menus as you would if you alone were listening to it with headphones. A rare event, perhaps, but it's a gateway to very impressive (and useful) functionality.

And, as the summary stated, using WiFi would free the music player (iPod or otherwise) from transferring music and data files through cables. Of course, it would be a lot faster to transfer using cables (compare the transfer speed of Firewire of USB 2.0 to 802.11b/g). A more advanced functionality would allow you to browse and download from iTMS without a computer entirely.

I don't doubt that Apple has been working on this. Who knows, it might be a feature of the 6G iPod (whenever that comes out). But, since they haven't released it yet, there are obviously still formidable obstacles (engineering and economic) that keep it from primetime.

Personally, I'm surprised that Apple hasn't at least developed and released an add-on module for the iPod that provides all this WiFi capability (Airtunes, wireless synching, etc.) and plugs into the Dock Connector. Probably too much of a niche product for now.

Re:AirTunes (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694316)

Imagine hosting a party, walking from room to room, shmoozing, with your iPod in your pocket. You want to change the music playing throughout the house, you just pull it out and flick through the menus as you would if you alone were listening to it with headphones.
Huh. You can do exactly that with your Mac, your Bluetooth phone, and Salling Clicker. The music streams from your Mac, not your phone, but Clicker's iTunes interface works just the way you'd expect an iPod to work with buttons replacing the wheel. This has been possible for years.

Re:AirTunes (2, Interesting)

topham (32406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694426)

Considering the amount of time batteries last when using Bluetooth (for data transfers, not the occasional click), or WiFi what the heck is the point of having it 'wireless'?

I have an iPod and, except for the anemic battery life, love it. I just don't see the point in adding wireless capabilities to it.

I have a PocketPC, and I at one time wanted to use it to control whatever computer I had which was acting as my music server. To me that makes perfect sense and the connectivity already exists, etc. The problem? Microsoft and their damn OS and .Net issues makes it painful to do ad-hoc development for it as a platform, and none of the existing tools that I looked at (at the time, things may have changed) are very good. So, since they can't take advantage of existing hardware, why should I expect they'll do something right on another new platform????

Re:AirTunes (1)

glebd (586769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15711640)

Wi-Fi kills battery in no time. 20 minutes of wireless browsing on Nokia N80 and the battery is empty. Why would you want to sacrifice battery life for a non-essential feature? Can't you listen to music without Wi-Fi? Or is this like a hot trend every iPod killer device must have? (Microsoft got transparency in the UI now, there's a hot trend for you, and look what they've done with it in Vista--it's everywhere, it's useless, and it requires a lot of GPU power to run properly...)

Re:AirTunes (3, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694376)

Well that and wifi isn't a big deal really. What makes the Ipod so nice is that it's simple. It plays music/videos and that's it. The interface is minimalist but totally effective. Once you start making a device into a game playing wifi enabled gadget, it becomes harder to make it elegant. I mean, think for a moment what the device has to have available on it just to connect to a wifi network. You have to be able to enter an SSID, WEP key, etc. Already you're making things needlessly complicated.

The one advantage I can see to wifi is the ability to buy and download music directly to the device. But how do you do that? How does the interface work? How do you pay for songs, etc? It's a simple problem to solve on a computer with a keyboard, etc, but on a compact device, it's really difficult.

Frankly I think Microsoft's product is going to be a dud because it'll be too complicated.

Re:AirTunes (3, Informative)

nathanh (1214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696050)

It plays music/videos and that's it.

Yeah, music and video, that's it.

And text files. It shows text files. But that's it.

Yeah, and that breakout game. And the parachute game. But really, that's it. Music, video, notes, games... that's it.

Oh right, the photos thing. It does photos too. Music, video, notes, games, photos... really, I think that's it.

No wait, I forgot about the address book. Everybody forgets that one! Music, video, notes, games, photos, address book... is that it?

Hey, its got a clock too! It's a world clock as well. Music, video, notes, games, photos, address book, world clock... anything else?

Damn, it's got a calendar too. Music, video, notes, games, photos, address book, world clock, calendar... surely that's it!

I mean, we all agree the iPod is "so simple". The iPod "plays music/videos and that's it" afterall!

Frankly I think Microsoft's product is going to be a dud because it'll be too complicated.

Yeah, stupid Microsoft, they'd do something complicated like put a stopwatch in their player!

PS: I remember 12 months ago, people just like you saying that the iPod would never play video because that would be "too complicated".

Re:AirTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15706603)

nathan, what you are missing is that all the features that you are listing are actually simple features because they all require easy navigation (point, select, click)... while some of the features that MS wants to add to their so called ipod killer require actual input of information which makes it much harder for the user to use. plus the people who thought video would not end up on the ipod did not think so because it would be too hard to use, but because it would be too hard to view on a small screen like the ipod's screen. this had nothing to do with navigation or input usability.

Re:AirTunes (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696930)

I really don't understand that part about "wire bound". It still needs to be charged, and even with USB1.1 (yes, I've done this), file synching with a portable device is plenty fast for a quick charge. Wireless networking takes a certain amount of power that's better used for longer play life because the networking adds little to the usefulness. On the other hand, I would accept wireless headphones, those standards reduce the entanglement of headphone cables, and current wireless headphones aren't so power hungry as a wireless network adapter.

news? (1)

computertheque (823940) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694081)

So now we have a codename for the project, and that's it? This is news?

I'm not trying to be negative, but a codename and speculation of something that was already speculation is hohum to me.

Ergo (1)

red3dwarf (982204) | more than 7 years ago | (#15706597)

ergo (ûr'g, âr'-) pronunciation

Consequently; therefore.

Consequently; hence.

Someone else is doing well, therefore, Microsoft wants a piece of the action. They had their way in other markets in the past, e.g. server operating systems and web-browsers but they haven't done so well recently, e.g. virtualisation and DRM-locked music players.

Competition is supposed to stimulate markets but Microsoft's heavy hand tends to stifle the market.

Typical Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694094)

Trying to pack in too many features into one thing and making them all equally slow and hard to use.

They really tried (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694121)

to make a few features a little slower and a little harder but they couldn't, they ended up with them "all equally slow and hard to use". Oh well, better luck next time.

Good Luck ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694129)

Seriously, Good Luck to Microsoft ...

They are attempting to build a system in the exact same mold as Sony where Sony was unsuccessful ...

They're facing Nintendo after the DS Lite has made the Nintendo DS the most popular system (by a large margin) in every region it has released ...

Seriously ... Microsoft is going to need all the luck they can get.

How long until.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694154)

Argo: I have detected non-proprietry media formats on your network, as a result the RIAA have been contacted. Would you like me to recommend a good lawyer?

Re:How long until.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15697041)

It'll happen just after you lose your virginity.

So never.

semi-on-topic (1)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694183)

what happened to Origami?

MS seems to have lots of announcements of future products, and even "launches", but I rarely actually see anything from them in real life.

Re:semi-on-topic (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694407)

It got renamed to something that only a marketroid could love. It's now the "Ultra-mobile PC" [microsoft.com], or UMPC for those who love acronyms. "Origami" would've been a bad brand name, but "Ultra-mobile PC" is even worse. If you have $1,100 burning a hole in your pocket, [bestbuy.com] you can become the (proud?) owner of one.

So, for $1,100 you can have a slow, short battery life, and expensive laptop PC. Or for $600 [dell.com], you can give up the touch screen, get a faster CPU, faster hard drive and a bigger, higher resolution screen and get a basic notebook computer. Too much price for too little bang.

Re:semi-on-topic (1)

bartyboy (99076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695526)

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the short battery life. I think one of the reasons why the DS and Gameboy handhelds are successful is their 10 hour battery life. Origami has a 3 1/2 (maximum?) battery life, which is comparable to Apple notebooks, minus the processing power, screen size etc.

While games available for a handheld system and technical specs are of great importance, I think battery life is the reason why certain systems outsell others.

Origami? (4, Interesting)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694185)

Not wishing to sound like a nay-sayer, but what happened to Microsoft's last handheld device, the Origami?


Exactly, not much at all. I'm rather skeptical at this point to be honest. The only hardware that has an MS-badge on that I've found to be any good has normally been developed elsewhere and brought in and rebadged.

Re:Origami? (1)

mpaque (655244) | more than 7 years ago | (#15700261)

Heh. Origami. The cheap ultramobile 'lifestyle' PC that wasn't cheap or ultramobile.

From the hype on CNet:
"Microsoft's goal is to create a blueprint for devices that could sell for $600 or less, although the actual prices will depend greatly on what manufacturers decide to include. Origami is capable of supporting features like GPS, Bluetooth, 3G cellular technology and Wi-Fi, though each of these adds to the cost of the device."

That instantly transformed into "GPS, Bluetooth, Cellphones, and WiFi for $600!1!! OMG! Ponies!"

I think we all know what happened when reality hit. 1.7 - 2 pound mini-tablets with base prices around $1200, or totally stripped around $950 (no GPS, Cell, WiFi, etc). Not exactly pocket-sized, unless you're into jumbo-size cargo pants.

We already see the features being piled onto this 'iPod killer', and it isn't even announced. Today I've seen claims of WiFi and Bluetooth included, bizarre on-the-fly music sharing and social networking, free copies of purchased iTunes, cellphone-like downloads and purchasing without a computer, and oh, it's a portable video player too.

Whatever they ship, if anything, will be a disappointment. From the touted features, this thing will have to be close to the capabilities of a fully loaded Origami box. That's expensive. A smaller screen and battery, and replacing a general purpose OS with a dedicated system will only shave so much off the price.

More realistically, the feature set sounds like Nintendo DS + iPod + cellphone/PDA. Maybe like a Nokia 770 (low end) or Sony VIAO UX50 (high end)? (with more than 3.5 hours of battery life, please!)

Brilliant! (4, Funny)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694196)

Name your latest high tech gadget for a bronze age pirate ship crewed by illiterate drunks and thieves trying to stay one step ahead of that mad bitch Medea. Brilliant!

Re:Brilliant! (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695598)

My thought was that Microsoft was going to use that as thier vessel to find the "Golden Fleece"

(thinking of the alternatie definition of fleece)

Like other products... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694204)

No doubt this will have as big an impact on the gaming market as the Origami had on the portables market.

Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (2)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694208)

This could actually work for Microsoft if its marketed properly. There are plenty of disgruntled PSP owners (myself included) who want a device that can do more than play games and plenty of Ipod users that are irritated that the repeated requests for features such as wireless continually fall on deaf ears. If they market the device as a media device that just happens to play games they really have a shot at making a dent.

The PSP was a great idea but the Memory Stick Duo and UMD options really killed alot of its potential IMHO. The device had already been out a year before MSD 's of any size significant enough for music or video were affordable. Without the ability to output to a bigger screen, UMD was DOA, after all who the heck wants to rebuy their movies on a format that only works on a dinky little portable screen. The sad part is that if the UMD format had been opened up allowing the option of homeplayers and such the format could have really taken off.

The IPod while a great device is at the Mercy of whatever bone Job's feels like throwing at the users. I love apples design and innovation but the tempermental artist who thinks he knows what you need better than you know what you want act is really getting old.

A fairly generic handheld with a decent screen, standard memory format and decent capabilities would surely be welcomed by those who dont really need a full fledged pda but want something more than a game player.

Re:Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (2, Insightful)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694286)

what's the obsession with wireless?

sure, sometimes when I see a new podcast in iTunes I'd like to just have it on my 5G wirelessly. but thinking about it, would that mean my ipod would always have to have wifi turned on? would the ipod itself have to be turned on? and I'd still have to plug it in for large syncs, use as an external hard drive and of course charging.

I think that if instead of every little sync adding to my battery life it actually took some away, then battery life would become an issue which at the moment it isn't.

I have a DS lite for games.

Re:Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694841)

Actually I was thinking more along the lines of something like built in Bluetooth, sure wifi could be used to transfer songs or stream I guess and would be great for gaming but give me an audio device with a wireless stereo headset that doesnt require a dongle the size of the device itself and i will stand in line to buy one.

Re:Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (3, Insightful)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694451)

I think there's a common thread among the devices you mention: the ones that succeeded did one thing, and did it well. The Ipod plays music very well (plus video, but that feels tacked-on to me). Nintendo handhelds have always played games well. In addition, both have put an emphasis on portability and battery life.

Then you look at devices that aren't doing that well. The PSP has some sweet specs, but (as you mention) it has some issues. The DS getting twice the battery life (or more) probably doesn't help either. As for portable audio players, wake me when the manufacturers that aren't Apple figure out how to design a user interface that doesn't suck.

Re:Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694731)

Like the GP2X?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GP2X [wikipedia.org]

Re:Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694822)

I like my gamepark but frankly if it was the only handheld I had I would be extremely dissappointed. Its great for emulation but its kinda weak in the resolution and processing power departments, not to mention there isnt a single commercial developer outside of Japan and Korea.

Re:Could make it despite the Ipod and the DS (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15699124)

plenty of Ipod users that are irritated that the repeated requests for features

How many?

You can be sure that Apple is quite aware of just how many people care enough about any particular feature and whether it makes sense to add the cost of said feature to every unit. That's why the radio tuner for the iPod is a separate accessory, for example.

Mercy of whatever bone Job's feels like throwing at the users.

Why get so dramatic about it? Buy it if you like it, don't buy it if you want something different. So far, several million people a year like it.


But is it a gaming machine? (3, Funny)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694210)

Wi-Fi sounds like a big deal if you're comparing the player to the wire-bound iPod. But this is more than just another MP3 player. It will also compete with game players from Sony and Nintendo that have long had Wi-Fi and work as media players, Internet terminals and communication devices.
So Microsoft is looking for another loss investment? What, the XBox doesn't lose them enough money?

Nintendo does well in the hand-held market because they've spent almost 20 years learning what people want in a hand held device, as well as offering a large selection of software that is fun and speaks to a wide spectrum of people, not just your 14-24 male crowd.

Sony has been able to break into the handheld market (where many others have failed) because they have the brand name recognition, as well as ports for a lot of popular franchises, not to mention the nice movie viewing capability. (However, even Sony is beginning to sink, as the number of people speaking against the constant remakes are beginning to grow, and UMD movies have all but sunk.)

So Microsoft, which barely edged Nintendo out for second place in America, and is in third place in Japan by a far gap (even despite being the first "next-gen" system there), thinks that they can break into the handheld market with what sounds like another version of their "Origami" project, but geared more towards games? I would put down safe money that it sinks faster than the Game Gear. The idea of it being an XBox brand makes me think that the device will be bigger than the PSP, too.

"My, that backpack looks heavy. What do you have in there?"
"My eXtreme-Box portable gaming system."
"And what else?"
"Uh, that's it."

Of course, no one would try to steal it, since the device would be useful as a bludguning instrument, as well. "Looks like the perp left a mark on his victim. What exactly is that?" "Looks like some sort of big X."

This thing can't fail! (1)

TimmyDee (713324) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694237)

WiFi! Music! Games! Talks nice with Xbox! iPod/PSP/DS/GameBoy/kitchen sink-killer!

If we're lucky, the marketing department will know exactly how to package [google.com] and advertise this product so we all know to buy one. Maybe it'll even jump off the shelves at us. Literally!

Not good enough (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694245)

Until it's able to split the atom, I'd say the feature list is incomplete.

Mod +5 Funny (1)

dafing (753481) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695956)

Ok, so "From the fires of Mount Doom, is this the one gadget to rule all gadgets?" gets +5 but not this?

Finally, a well named Microsoft UI (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694252)

The "agro" - what term could sum it up better?

Yes, I realize I misread it but, with any problems at all, you know that's the name that'll stick.

OT: What's this Related Stories crap? (0, Offtopic)

stefanb (21140) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694272)

Last time I checked, I was paying to not see ads. What's up with these "offsite" related articles? If they are indeed relevant, put them in a box on the right.

Size (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694300)

One of the key things in the iPod's early (and sustained) success has been its small form factor. Compare the size of the iPod to the size of a PSP or nintendo DS or a wireless PDA/smartphone (just visualize them in your head, I'm not comparing them as devices).

Now consider a device that combines most of the functions of these, as the article suggests: music player, video/picture playback, wireless internet capability, game-playing capability, all with a crisp color screen and XX hours battery life.

Does Microsoft have the ability to deliver all of these functions into a form factor that will have mass appeal, at a price that will allow it to compete with the iPod? I believe not. In fact, given the current state of the art, I think that we are still several years from the kind of miniaturization and manufacturing that anyone would need to be able to pull that off. I don't think that Microsoft will be the company to do it. It may not be Apple, either.

Re:Size (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#15707029)

One of the key things in the iPod's early (and sustained) success has been its small form factor.

I would say partly true. The Rio and Creative players were just as small if not smaller. It is a neccesity of MP3 players in general that they be small. What set the iPod apart was ease of use. Later it was integration with iTunesMS.

So, fellow Hobbits... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694356)

From the fires of Mount Doom, is this the one gadget to rule all gadgets?

Re:So, fellow Hobbits... (1)

Cocoa Radix (983980) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696965)

I hope not -- I don't want to have to chase down creepy Gollum if he comes and steals it from me.

Of course, while he's stroking it and hissing "precious," I can probably just go buy another one.

But MS is making DS games! (2, Interesting)

2008 (900939) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694373)

Why on Earth would MS be developing games for the DS if it intended to come out with a competing device?

MechAssualt DS [ign.com] - based on the Xbox games
Diddy Kong Racing DS [kotaku.com](a port from the N64, via MS-owned Rare)

To make money? (1)

Corngood (736783) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694808)

It's not as if those games are going to make a big impact in the market. I would also be very suprised if this device ends up being a direct competitor for the DS.

Re:But MS is making DS games! (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696449)

For the same reason MS declared support for Dreamcast (and Bill Gates was there through satellite link in the Japanese presentation) and 8 months later XBox was announced.

Just works (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694381)

It seems that if a company makes something that is simple and works, it sells. MS had much success when it made an OS that just worked, and only got into trouble when it started added random features instead of targeted functionility. The xBox, a simple console, has some significant success. It is unclear whether they can once again take the conservative approach to software and hardware that has proven so benificial. MS Vista is in trouble because everthing is just thrown in. Everyone is going to have major issues with the consoles because they are trying to use them to win the livingroom, instead of just the gameroom.

From the description it sounds like this device is just going to be a revamped oragami with a xBox OS. We have yet to a viable Oragami. Even with MS Cell phones are not taking the market by storm. I actually think MS has a good chance of wining the music player market if it leverages the xBox platform instead of MS Windows. I realize that it will hard not to use the desktop monopoly to push the product, but do we really want a game/music machine with outllook?

Re:Just works (1)

Corngood (736783) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694884)

Good thoughts. I think it's much more likely to go the Xbox route than the Windows route. The problem with building a new version of Windows (or dos) is that it has to do everything the current version does (and dos too, mostly).

Re:Just works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15696772)

> I realize that it will hard not to use the desktop monopoly to push the product, but do we really want a game/music machine with outllook?

It doesn't matter. That's exactly what you're going to get. From the sounds of it you'll get Internet Explorer too.

Re:Just works (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15699158)

MS had much success when it made an OS that just worked,

When was that?

I was there, from 1982 on... Dealing with interrupt conflicts, overlay managers, the Lotus-Intel-Microsoft extended memory specification, extended versus expanded memory, etc, etc..

MS's success was a gift from IBM.


Ho humm (2, Insightful)

presearch (214913) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694390)

Won't this just be CE..I mean PocketPC...I mean Windows Mobile with a couple new bundled apps, an added API, and a hardware reference that specs a patent-safe imitation of the iPod click wheel? The tech press has latched on to this for some reason for the last few days, probably planted to take advantage of a recently weakened AAPL, but it makes no sense for M$ to alienate their phone and PDA customers by coming out with their own hardware.

What's the market? (1)

kimble3 (736268) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694431)

This new information actually muddies the water quite a bit. What is Microsoft's goal here? Are they trying to make an iPod killer music player that also happens to play games? Or are they targeting the PSP market with a device that also happens to play music? With the XBox I could see how they would want to levarage that investment in a handheld device but a device like that I don't think could compete with iPods at all. In fact, it sounds like there falling into the old 'throw everything in it but the kitchen sink' trap that they've always fallen into...

Re:What's the market? (1)

Siguy (634325) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695016)

I don't think this is a game player. I think the news people are grabbing onto that because they've been expecting a portable Xbox, but I think this is really much more iPod focused. It's not necessarily competing with the PSP's gaming abilities but its portable media abilities. Maybe with an attachment it'd let you stream footage anywhere and all sorts of neat things like that.

I think it's unlikely they'd make a portable Xbox and not go really full bore with it. This sounds more like when their new tablet PC got confused with a portable xbox earlier in the year.

This will give Apple some idea's for ... (2, Interesting)

tetrode (32267) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694501)

For the next version of their iPods.

As we all recall (or perhaps you have forgotten about - it was launched in October 2001 , the first version of the iPod has had its share of problems. The iPod is not at its fifth generation and has lots of features that Microsoft can either dream of at their first incarnation or implement badly.

In addition to that, there will be features that Microsoft will not implement.

  - support for Apple? No way
  - Calender integration with Mozilla Sunbird? No way


Plus - they need to cut deals with the record companies; Apple has already done this.

Furthermore, there are currently more than 50 million iPods on the planet. Not to count the millions of other players. So it is a very hard market to get into.

* Wireless would be nice - when it is working correctly, and noone can connect to my iPod/Argo to snoop my data.
* Games? I don't know, this would probably drain the battery life, so not for me...

And, if this is typical Microsoft quality software (and I'm not talking virii here, although this is a possibility), you probably need to restart the thingy on a daily basis (I restarted my iPod twice in one year) and there will be upgrade after upgrade.

Microsoft, you need to convince me ...


Re:This will give Apple some idea's for ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15696257)

You know, if it ran Linux... er... would be kinda ironic...

Sure it has Wi-Fi.. but.... (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694509)

Will it have a Wave Motion Gun... like all good Argo's should.

On a serious note, if they can tie mobile phone service into it with games, mp3's and portable storage then it just might stand a chance of really being "One gadget to in the darkness bind them"

I was worried at first, but now I'm not... (3, Insightful)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15694652)

When MS started talking about creating simpler infrastructure, and more ellegent solutions, I got a little worried that maybe they were really in the right headspace to compete with the iPod. But now I see that those original ideals were just words, and this thing is going to be just another PSP: "It's a game device, it's a PDA, it's a video player, it's a music player, WOW!" You'd think that MS would have learned its lesson from Sony on this one, but it seems like they haven't. Their decision to make a handheld gaming system will be their biggest downfall, now they're not only competing with Apple (and Yahoo, and Creative Labs, and iRiver), but with Nintendo and Sony as well. At this point, if you manage to piss off Nintendo and Apple in the same punch, you're likely to just strengthen their unspoken alliance to the point of them officially joining forces against you, and I wouldn't want to be on the other side of that battle.

What's so difficult to understand? The two most successfull handheld entertainment devices, in their respective fields, are the iPod and the Nintendo DS. Both of these devices succeded because they were aimed at only one market, were designed to do one thing, and they did it extremely well. And because of it, they slaughtered every other competative device that tried to throw in the kitchen sink. Meanwhile, the PSP, N-Gage, and all those other little "3 in 1" type gadgets are foundering.

The first thing this device is going to kill (if anything at all), is all the iPod's competitors, which are trying to do exactly the same thing as MS is here. The irony is that these are MSs biggest allies, many of them use WMA as their primary file type, and thus have contracts with MS worked out. But there's no way that MS is going to be able to compete with the iPod, head-to-head from the get-go, these other devices stand like a helpless rank of unarmed soldiers standing just in front of the huge army that is the iPod.

Apple-Nintendo Alliance?! (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696207)

At this point, if you manage to piss off Nintendo and Apple in the same punch, you're likely to just strengthen their unspoken alliance to the point of them officially joining forces against you, and I wouldn't want to be on the other side of that battle.

"Unspoken alliance"? What does this mean, exactly? I'm not remotely aware of any such thing. Have their execs, or even their employees, ever met? And if they did, did they like wink at each other, or did they sign a memo of understanding or something? Nintendo and Apple share like no interests, just competitors, and that doesn't mean anything. That's like saying Philips will ally with Microsoft due to their competition with Sony in the electronics market.

Re:Apple-Nintendo Alliance?! (3, Insightful)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696256)

No, there is no official relationship between the two companies, but the similarities, especially in business philosophy are uncanny. Share no interests? Think again, they seem to share almost identical innovation philosophies: KISS (keep it simple, stupid), when in doubt, go back and try something completely different (iPod wheel, Nintendo DS & Wii), make one gadget that does one thing very well, the list goes on and on. This all at a time when the word on the street is "features, features, features!", complexity is better than elligance, and innovation is risky business. I don't know any companies who share more similar business philosophies than Apple and Nintendo. Now, that doesn't mean that next year they won't turn around and become huge competitors, but I think they share an almost identical ideology. It does mean that if there is any interest in doing any joint business venture, there is a deffinite compatability there to do so. So, if both of their livelihoods are threatend by the same company in one swoop, if it's worth their while, from a business standpoint, I could easilly see them doing a joint project. I don't think there's any need for one for the time being. Although, it's become fairly clear that Nintendo has taken some cues from Apple: the footprint for the iPod Mini and the GameBoy Micro is identical (even their naming convensions suggest some looking over eachother's shoulders), and the Nintendo DS Lite's styling is way too close to the iPod to be mear cohincidence. But these are not really unexpected, and don't really have anything to do with the business's overall mission statement. Now, their makeup might be quite different, I don't know, but having such an uncannilly similar ideology makes up for some interesting speculation, don't you think?

Re:Apple-Nintendo Alliance?! (1)

great om (18682) | more than 7 years ago | (#15700413)

the appleIIGS was a development platform for nintendo at some point, I think perhaps for the Super Nintendo

Re:Apple-Nintendo Alliance?! (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 7 years ago | (#15701728)

And Windows was a development platform for the Gamecube, wasn't it? I really don't think there's any secret connection between Apple and Nintendo except in the eyes of their fans. I really can't easily see them working on a joint project in the near future, their actual businesses and corporate cultures are just too different.

Re:I was worried at first, but now I'm not... (2, Insightful)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696486)

You are spouting a lot of nonsense. I am glad most people don't believe what you are saying, or we would never have had any interesting devices in the first place. You can argue against extra funcitonality for devices, but it is going to happen. The only reasons it is not hapening now, is due to battery life, CPU power, and memory. These are quickly being overcome, even today a number of devices can be successfully merged (Telephone, PDA, mp3 player). Right now these devices aren't the best, because a lot of tech companies spend all the money on creating new technologies, and not a lot on interfaces, making thins intuitive and a pleasure to use. This will change, and will have to change. Even Apple is working on tech like this. Imagine an ipod sized device, with a full screen on one side, and able to take phone calls, movies, pda, wifi, and with a pleasant UI - it will happen.

(Just because you can site two popular devices, you seemed to be convinced that the world will never change)

Re:I was worried at first, but now I'm not... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15699637)

Ever used a universal remote? They're a pain in the ass. Well, normal remotes are a pain in the ass too, but remotes that try to tie ALL functionality together are some of the most difficult UI devices ever invented. Now, there's the added fact that they're 3rd party devices, having to account for controlling all sorts of different devices. Even so, the fact remains that the TV remote was designed to be simple and quick to use, so you didn't have to get up from your chair to change the channel, adjust volume, etc. And yet we're stuck with devices with (sometimes) hundreds of buttons.

I suggest that Apple hasn't designed a device that has multi-functionality, NOT because of battery life, cost, or anything of the sort, but because they haven't yet figured out how to make one that wouldn't be a pain in the ass to use. Anything's possible, and someday, someone's brilliant UI designers (maybe Apple, almost certainly not Microsoft) will figure out a way of ellegently tieing the functionality of these devices together. One of the purposes of a handheld, besides it's portability, is to be quick and much easier to use than a computer. I don't think we have UI developement up to a level where we can make a multifunction device that's reasonably easy to use. Now, I agree, someday this WILL change, just by the nature of developement, someone will come up with an ellegent solution, but until then, I have two belt clips, one each side: one for my cell phone, and one for my iPod, and I have absolutely no problem with that.

Oh, and try to be a little nicer in you're posts. Saying things like, "I am glad most people don't believe what you are saying", for one thing, it is not true, and secondly, it will get you nowhere on /. I'm not in complete disagreement with you, after all. Let's try to keep the conversation reasonable.

Re:I was worried at first, but now I'm not... (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15703941)

Sorry mate, didn't mean to come of so hard. I agree with a lot of what you say, but can also see that the world is changing.

Re:I was worried at first, but now I'm not... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15709707)

I really don't think things are changing. Humans have always tried to tie different technologies together. How is the devices we're talking about any different from a Swiss Army Knife? I mean, Swiss Army Knives are nice, but if you really need to gut a big fish, I'll take a simple hunting knife any day.

Go Argos Go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15694847)

Go Argos [argonauts.ca] Go! Go Argos Go!

Missing the point? (5, Informative)

genedefect (845080) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695046)

A lot of people seem to be completely missing the details of the product here...

1) Unlike Origami, MS is actually making the hardware and software here. They are not bound to the hands of a lot of crappy Consumer Electronics device makers and PC OEMs that historically make ugly hardware (and huge hardware)

2) This is coming out of the team that made the Xbox and the Xbox360. They have proven that they can write lean/mean software that just works and has pretty and good UI

3) This device is not (currently) a video game player. As pointed out above, MS is still obviously making games for the DS, and no respectable news site has stated that it plays games, just that it might at some mysterious point in the future.

4) The leaked pictures show a fairly small device with a small attenna on the top. It has some blurry UI that doesn't look like Portable Media Center software, which implies that they wrote something specially for the device to go head to head with the iPod

5) Its not just a device, but also appears to include an iTMS competitor. In light of this, it looks like they aren't going to use the horrid "Play for Sure" crap. Instead, they are doing what needs to be done. Make something that actually just works well together. Not something they somehow make work together (like WMP in general with media devices)

6) MS already has relationships with most record labels due to the old MSN music store. They also have relationships with most movie studios due to the VC-1 codec that is in both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

All in all, it sounds like MS did look at the market and realized that they had to make something that is small, is focused at just media (audio and video, no games). They also appear to be trying to innovate ever so lightly by adding WiFi and a lot of the potential that brings. One need only look at what MS did with Xbox Live and the 360 to think about what can be done with a permenant Internet connection on a Consumer Electronics device. There is a lot of potential here that if they live up to, could mean the next step in Portable Media Devices.

Worst case, MS shows what not to do with things like WiFi, then Apple comes out with the iPod WiFi and does it right.

Either way, it only benefits us, the consumer.

OH wow!! (1)

garote (682822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695071)

Just what I need from Microsoft ... yet another entry in the "It's a laptop - without the keyboard!" market.

SRSLY, PPL. Your laptop is bigger than your Nintendo DS is bigger than your PDA is bigger than your cellphone is bigger than your iPod Nano for a good reason: Each is at the minimum allowable size for which user input and output is still efficient. Creating a product with featuritis right out of the gate is not going to magically overcome this I/O hurdle. At best, it's going to sell to a frustrated subset of people who use all the devices it's meant to replace. Then it will go in a drawer.

It's happened dozens of times in the past. It will happen to this product. If it even sees the light of day (which is a valid question given MS's track record lately).

A music player? (2, Insightful)

decadre (980513) | more than 7 years ago | (#15695982)

Wouldn't it have to be a "music player" to be an i-pod killer? This is a hand held gaming system, so of course it has a larger screen, of course it has wifi. PSP and DS have both of these but it wouldn't be considered an "i-pod killer", even if it did have a music store. This is like saying "the 360 is the same as a media PC". Yes, it can be used as a media centre, but in fact it is a game console. Marketing it as both is just that, marketing. I would still rather have devoted devices in *some* cases. I like being able to take my nano anywhere with me without having to worry about how much space it will take up. "No I have to wear a jacket on a 35 deg. c day just so I can carry my Argo/PSP/whatever in my pocket" - doesn't make sense

Re:A music player? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15697093)

I think the point is that every other portable gadget of every kind will be able to play music, many companies seem resigned to having to make some other device to "beat" iPod. It may well be that even the iPods would be an insignificant part of the market if you included phones that play MP3 files, I think there maybe more than a billion cell phones in use, and Apple only sold maybe 50M of their music players. I think the flaw in that reasoning is that it assumes that there is a full market dichotomy, that no one would want a simple, dedicated product over their "converged" product. There is always room for dedicated products, sometimes they are relegated to a tiny niche.

iPod Killer? (2, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#15696312)

Yeah, I'm gonna strap that to my shoulder and take it with me when jogging.

Something the size of a PSP will never ever be competition to something the size of an iPod nano.

This could be interesting... (1)

Icepole4 (978286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15697053)

I kinda like MS's direction with this thing. It sounds more like a PSP competitor than an ipod competitor. A lot of folks are bashing the PSP...Yeah it's selling anywhere near DS levels but it has been pretty successful in the sales department. If MS can do the PSP one better they may not have a "ipod killer" on their hands but they'll be a major player in the mutimedia handheld market.
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