June 10, 2005 10:00 AM PDT
Week in review: Apple's changing core
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year. Microsoft Update, which replaces Windows Update, was also supposed to launch at that time. Microsoft has blamed the delays in part on work it had to do on Windows XP Service Pack 2, a mammoth security-focused update for Windows XP that was released last August.
For more than 20 years, Ballmer has been Microsoft's chief salesman, promoting his company's products with a mixture of over-the-top enthusiasm, street-fighter brashness and market savvy. He hasn't mellowed.
During the course of a 30-minute sit-down at TechEd with editors from CNET News.com, Ballmer was his vintage self, variously pounding on the table or bellowing answers to drive home sundry points with, ahem, extra emphasis.
Changing their tunes
With Apple's dominance over the digital music business continuing to grow, Microsoft is planning to bolster its own online song store with a new subscription service later this year, sources familiar with the plans say. The software giant launched its song download store, similar to Apple's iTunes store, last September. But the Microsoft MSN-branded service did not include a subscription plan.
Now Microsoft is working with record labels and copyright holders in preparation for launching its subscription-based component, sources familiar with the talks said. The tentative features of the new service--which is still under development--include advanced community aspects and playlist-sharing. Microsoft is also working to give subscribers a new, Microsoft-formatted version of any song they've purchased from the iTunes store so those songs can be played on devices other than an iPod.
Digital media company Roxio is also taking a shot at Apple's market with the announcement of a software suite designed to let iPod owners fine-tune their song collections and other audio files. Boom Box comprises five applications, including some geared for people who want to tinker with more than just music. It's priced at $49.95.
For those who want to delve into the trendy area of podcasting, Roxio's iPodderX application directs podcast subscriptions to a desktop from which those audio files can be transferred to Apple's digital music device. In a similar vein, Roxio's Audio Hijack application lets people schedule the recording of Internet radio broadcasts.
Meanwhile, Apple's iTunes online music store is as popular as most music-swapping networks. A survey by market researcher NPD Group found that approximately 1.7 million U.S. households downloaded a song from iTunes in March. That was good enough to earn the store a second-place rank, tying with peer-to-peer downloading service LimeWire.
According to NPD, about 4 percent of Internet-enabled households in the nation used a paid music download store in March. Most of those who prefer legal music download sites are over 30 years of age. Many younger consumers are still sharing files over peer-to-peer services, NPD said.
Also of note
Seagate Technologies unveiled 10 new hard drives, including its first hard drive to use next-generation perpendicular-recording technology...Microsoft took part of its MSN Web site offline last weekend, after it learned of a flaw that could let an attacker gain access to Hotmail accounts...America Online launched free Web-based e-mail with 2GB of storage for AOL Instant Messenger users.
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