If there’s one thing to remember about Apple and Microsoft, there’s no love lost in their 25-year history. Apple may have lost the desktop wars to Microsoft, but the Cupertino, California Mac maker has won the respect and hearts of avid computer users worldwide; something not obvious with Microsoft’s customers.
The new battle is for media; specifically music on the PC and Mac. Apple’s 18 month-old iTunes Music Store is a runaway hit. Even critics of all things Mac have shown begrudging support for the combination iPod, iTunes music player, and iTunes Music Store for simplicity, ease of use, and power.
This week, Microsoft introduced their own MSN Music Store beta site. Just as media critics dissed Sony’s new Walkman portable music player, the same critics are having a hard time finding much that’s nice to say about Microsoft’s music store efforts.
Sure to set off verbal volleys between Apple fans and Microsoft is this quote from the MSN Music Preview Customer Service page:
As is typical with Microsoft marketing, a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations appear unchallenged.
For example, Microsoft says the PC standard for music is WindowsMedia format. In reality, it’s the MP3 format that’s the “standard.” Apple’s iPod plays MP3s just fine.
Microsoft says Apple’s iPod has a proprietary music format. Again, not true. The iPod will play AAC (from Dolby, not Apple), MP3, WAV (Microsoft’s own format), and others.
That’s just the tip of the disinformation iceberg for Microsoft’s PR machine.
The MSN Music Preview customer support area points out that “…more than 70 portable audio devices that support MSN Music today, and we hope that someday Apple decides to join with the industry to support consumer choice.”
What’s that again?
Looked at another way, MSN Music Store does not work with the industry standard for portable music players, Apple’s iPod. The iPod has approximately 60-percent of the portable music market, which means the other 70 or so music players make up the other 40-percent.
Apple says they’ve sold 125-million songs in the first 18 months of the iTunes Music Store, now over 4-million songs weekly. Microsoft remains tight-lipped about sales numbers so far on the MSN Music Store.
Since 70-percent of all legal music downloads on the Internet come from the iTunes Music Store, it would appear that Microsoft’s MSN Music Store is in the vast minority. Over 4-million iPods have been sold in the past two years making the diminutive music player the runaway hit.
So, defact standards appear to be 1) Apple iPod music player, and 2) iTunes Music Store, and 3) iTunes.
Is the battle over? Hardly. It’s just begun.
For example, media pundit Walt Mossberg, of the Wall Street Journal, has this to say about Microsoft’s MSN Music Store:
For an indepth look at how Microsoft’s music store works, Click Here.
To read how Microsoft will crush Apple, the iPod, and the iTunes Music Store, Click Here.
To check all the MSN Music Store Customer Service requirements, and FAQ’s, Click Here.
Walt Mossberg’s Personal Technology column is available online; Click Here.