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Argo: Microsoft’s portable media player

J AllardBrier Dudley at the Seattle Times takes it on himself to tell the world about Microsoft’s upcoming intended iPod killer. J Allard, former chief of the Xbox platform, is heading project Argo, and despite all secrecy Brier was able to piece together some details.

Named after Jason and the Argonauts’ ship in Greek mythology, it seems Argo is either codename for one of a whole range of products or the whole project, encompassing a line of Xbox branded products aimed at digital media playback with full backing from everyone at Microsoft, thanks to CEO Steve Ballmer’s personal seal of approval. Allard’s team comprises of some of the core people behind the MSN Music service, which was probably intended as a pilot project to stay current in the fast moving market.

One of the killer features of the products could be their native support for Wi-Fi networking. Apart from synchronizing music with your computer without taking it out of your coat pocket, this Xboxic reporter suspects it also means a fully native bidirectional connection to the Xbox 360 will be possible: both downloading music on the 360 to the Argo, and streaming music from the Argo without hassling with cables.

Microsoft XNAWhat struck me as a real surprise though is that the device will probably be based on Allard’s other pet project Microsoft XNA, a framework facilitating easy and cheap cross-platform game development. This leads us to suspect the media player will also be sporting gaming abilities to a certain extent.

Financially, it seems Microsoft could really use a good public reception to all this leaked information, since they’ll be having some explaining to do next July 27th on their annual financial analyst meeting. Investors have been severely disappointed by Vista and the next Office system not hitting stores this year, and will be glad to see Microsoft pushing to hit the quite profitable media market this year with a well thought out and executed project like Argo seems to be. Who knows whether the Seattle Times really did some good research or Microsoft propaganda employees planted well-timed information on a reporter in their hometown?

Finally, Engadget has also released some concept art for the Argo which they’ve had for a while. It looks quite believable, borrowing looks from both Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile PDAs and phones and some passing resemblance to Apple’s line of iPod music players.

Microsoft Argo concept
Possible concept art for the Argo

Many thanks to CleanSweep31 and Stunner 2k for the pointer!

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67 comments on 'Argo: Microsoft’s portable media player'

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Comment by DSK UK on 2006-07-11 10:51:16 | Reply

i think it looks cool

and will be better for the market as a lot of people have wma’s that they can’t be arsed to convert

Comment by Rick on 2006-07-11 11:35:07 | Reply

wma?

*shivers*

Comment by FOURTW3NTY on 2006-07-11 12:02:47 | Reply

Looks like a cheap SanDisk player.

big screen.. nice..

so.. anyone want to play mad tracks on his Argo? :)

looks like 1st generation ipod…

Comment by Rick on 2006-07-11 13:27:48 | Reply

No it doesn’t… it looks like a 1st generation Argo.

http://upload.wikimedia.o...ightmatter_ipodvsmini.jpg

Doesn’t even come close…

Why is everything that’s white nowadays an iPod rip-off? That’s just silly :)

Comment by Max Newman on 2006-07-11 13:32:01 | Reply

I give it a little over a year before it sinks like so many other Microsoft projects. The iPod is hip but no one thinks Microsoft is hip.

I think only three Microsoft divisions actually make money. Not a great track record for putting out successful products.

Comment by The DarkFire on 2006-07-11 13:38:03 | Reply

I think they did a good job getting ‘hip’ with the sleek 360 design. If the Argo follows that trend I think MS has a shot at a good product.

Think the ‘waist’ )( that the 360 has, but than in a handheld shape. Nice and white, with chrome buttons and a chrome top. The menu wheel the 360 X button :D. Can you picture it?

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-11 13:52:22 | Reply

People who use the word hip can’t really consider themselves to be very hip.

Comment by FOURTW3NTY on 2006-07-11 19:16:44 | Reply

Amen to that.

I think only three Microsoft divisions actually make money. Not a great track record for putting out successful products.

Well, considering those departments include the Windows and Office department I wouldn’t complain so hard about their several billion dollars profit per year.

Not a great track record for putting out successful products???? Under which rock did you crawl from? LOL :) No company can compete with the success microsoft has had as of 1985. Does the word ‘windows’ ring a bell?

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-11 16:22:16 | Reply

Also the amount of money those departments make allows themto lose money on bringing more innovative products to the market.

And who said MS was all about profit.

Comment by Mario on 2006-07-11 13:38:42 | Reply

IT is butt ugly just like everything that comes from microsoft! I really feel sorry for them. They have nothing on Apple.

Comment by Jeff on 2006-07-11 13:41:32 | Reply

Look ok. Problem is Apple allready has so much of the market. Can Microsoft convert?

Comment by parity_bit on 2006-07-11 13:47:08 | Reply

It is not very innovative in design. I think MS should invest in more designers. Hold on! This is a Microsoft product, guarantee we will be seeing security updates for this baby in about a week or so from deployment…

Comment by Duck-o-liscious on 2006-07-11 14:06:15 | Reply

I think it has a shot as long as it is priced considerably cheaper than the IPod.

Comment by ali on 2006-07-11 14:07:56 | Reply

its a concept design people. who knows what the actual think will look like.

Comment by The DarkFire on 2006-07-11 14:30:25 | Reply

And not even a real concept design from MS, it’s a possible concept design. Could be made by anyone. If I have time I’ll make one that’s better :P

I really don’t see what the I-pod hype is about. It’s just a frikkin MP3 player. Handy for on the bus or something, but other than that an expencive device. When I’m at home I’ll listen to music via my sound system and MP3 collection on PC and in my car I have a MP3 car player. I’ll never spend a dime on that expencive USB stick called I-pod.

Comment by Lynn on 2006-07-11 15:12:30 | Reply

Some people never or don’t want to grasp something that is innovative and/or hip. When I leave home I play my Ipod over my car radio and dock it in my music system while in doors. However; when you leave home you have to carry all your CD’s or MP3’s….get with the program and move to the 21st century. Seriously though, I can’t begin to even tell you how useful and entertaining my Ipod is. With the 80% of the market share Apple has and the # they sell, we cannot all be wrong.

I’m not saying you’re all wrong, I’m just saying it’s not my kind of thing. Give me one good reason why I should follow the hype and be ‘hip’ and spend a load of money on something I don’t need or use. I have all the music I need in my car, so i don’t carry CD’s or stuff when I leave home..
Besides, In the 80s I never walked the streets with my walk-man, in the 90s I never walked the streets with my disc-man so in the 2Ks you will not see me walking the street with an iPod. ;) I’m not attacking anybody BTW so don’t be offended ;)

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-11 15:26:00 | Reply

At the risk of repeating myself I feel I need to point out the irony in using the word hip.

‘Amen’ to that! :P

Comment by GT:B1ack Gallagh3r on 2006-07-11 15:28:54 | Reply

its definetly not going to look like that i was watching the feed on g4tv and it says it will have gaming possibilities so thats probly not even close of what its going to look like.

They know as much for certain as we or Engadget do, which isn’t much :)

I personally believe, like I stated in the article, that the news was strategically leaked at this precise point in time, but that everything else will remain strictly under wraps until they decide otherwise. X06 might see a formal announcement.

i think it is obvious that Microsoft is betting on Media as the future of computing. Look at how well they’ve executed on the Xbox (which i thought was nothing special) as it is very likely going to become the market leader in gaming. I dont doubt Microsoft is going to make this into one hell of a device… why? Because with $30 billion in cash lying around, you can afford to hire anyone you want to make it happen.

What would Apple be if Microsoft did not agree to grant them the privelage of running Microsoft Office?

Comment by Chris Stevens on 2006-07-11 16:43:25 | Reply

good question. But let’s turn that around. What would Microsoft be if Apple did not agree to licence the look and feel of Mac OS to Microsoft? And yes, they did.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-11 16:53:26 | Reply

Lets turn it back, are apple kicking themselves for it now?

Comment by Homey on 2006-07-11 21:54:24 | Reply

And what would Apple be without Xerox, from whom they obtained their OS concept in the first place…

Comment by ElmoFox on 2006-07-11 16:36:21 | Reply

I think it looks really good.
They should give it a ring of light, like one his big brother, the 360.

They could have an instant hit with this, for example it would be ubercool if you could transfer a game soundtrack to this device for free.
I’d sure like to see one next to my 360 :)

Comment by Chris Stevens on 2006-07-11 16:45:02 | Reply

Wow. Ubercool …. now that’s a hip word.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-11 16:54:31 | Reply

God you are all so square.

Peace out, homies!

Comment by fodel on 2006-07-11 16:46:44 | Reply

Wow! Aren’t we lucky we have Apple? Where would microsoft get ideas without Apple to show them what a user friendly OS or product line looks like? Oh, and Real Player too.. and all the other innovative companies MS can steal fron. I can’t wait until the day comes when i can get in my Microsoft car, fill it with MS gas, and drive on the MS turnpike.

What’s your point? Microsoft has done plenty of innovations in their time, and just like Apple etc. they have also observed their competition. Microsoft is just so damn good at their job, which is “observe and improve”. Windows didn’t win the world because it was a copy of Apple’s OS, but because it did a lot of things just that tiny bit better. Same goes for Office. The whole world was using WordPerfect until MS Word came along. Do you honestly believe WP got its ass kicked because it was a superior product?

“Observe and improve”. Most companies do it. What was the last car manufacturer that invented a car? I think that’d be Henry Ford sometime long ago, wouldn’t it? ;) The rest just observed and improved.

Comment by larryR on 2006-07-11 16:54:20 | Reply

Oh, I cant wait to see the BIG BLUE SCREEN on this product also. Come on another windows product. Can’t wait for all the revision fixs on this one.
Sorry they missed the IPOD freight train on this one…

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-11 16:56:39 | Reply

Loon, there are other companies already producing better MP3 players than ipod, Creative Zen for example.

If apple get to complacent with there hold on the market they could get the same shock Sony is heading for.

Comment by Mike on 2006-07-11 17:10:50 | Reply

Looks like my old Cassiopeia E-100.

http://www.pdagold.com/im...main_large/0000000008.jpg

no it does not.

Comment by lol on 2006-07-12 00:21:53 | Reply

omg it looks like my desktop computer because it has a screen too!

Comment by Copter Bob on 2006-07-11 17:17:25 | Reply

Lol…”observe and improve”…more like purchase innovative competitor, box it up, hide it in warehouse next to Ark of Covenant.

And use their IP yourself. Isn’t that the same? Observe and improve.

That’s a capitalist market for you. And it works. *shrug*

Comment by Slayer.Daemon on 2006-07-11 17:24:39 | Reply

Creative Zen V, powered by SigmaTel, already blasts away the any iPod, released or otherwise. iPod was only so successful because it was first in the market; it’s already outclassed in every way (except reputation). The only thing I want to know about ARGO is what chipset it uses.

Comment by Shrivatsa on 2006-07-11 17:29:22 | Reply

Looks awesome can kick some ass (IPOD) but the price has to be competitive

Comment by c hris sheehan on 2006-07-11 18:32:22 | Reply

now microsoft is not only steeling apples ideas again they are steeling there look. microsoft will never have the succes of apples music industry becasue they dont relize that people dont car about a jack of all trade player. not enough people will car if it it can play games, or conect with a 360 (which sucks anyway). they want it to play music easily and play it well. thats why the ipod is so succesfull. it is cool and sleek and hip and all that but most importantly its an easy platform that ages 80 to 8 can use. microsoft will do what they always do. put a product out befor its ready with tons of defects and then they will put a nother one out to soon only to make there last one out dated.

Comment by Homey on 2006-07-11 21:57:52 | Reply

…with tons of defects…

Like your post… And Apple is no saint, for Pete’s sake–MS stole from Apple, who stole from Xerox.

J. Allard makes me laugh, where is he now? Before the 360 his head was shining all over the place, now he is no-where, it’s just good ol’ Major Nelson.

Comment by Hoffer on 2006-07-11 18:54:19 | Reply

I think they did a good job marketing the Xbox. A lot of people don’t like Microsoft for one reason or another. So, the Xbox marketing is just that. They don’t yell and scream that it’s the Microsoft Xbox. I say Sony Playstation or Nintendo Wii all the time. I never, ever say the Microsoft Xbox.

Saying all that…Maybe Xbox will become a brand of its own. Maybe this will be the Xbox Argo. Maybe Argo will be its own brand like Xbox is.

I had one thought on the WiFi thing. Maybe the Argo will be able to link up with the Xboy. So, you can stream music wirelessly to your Xboy if you want. This would eleminate the need to have a ton of flash in the Xboy. Granted, this means you have to buy both devices to have full functionality.

You could keep the Argo in your pocket or in a bag and access stuff on it wirelessly with your Xboy. Then later, if a larger capacity Argo comes out, you buy it, but can keep your Xboy.

One problem with the PSP is limited capacity of the memory stick. If the Xboy uses the Argo, wirelessly for storage, it wouldn’t be as big an issue.

Comment by Hoffer on 2006-07-11 18:58:01 | Reply

Just thought I’d add. The Xboy would obviously have some internal storage for game saves and such. Flash is pretty cheap these days, they could easily put 1-2 gigs of flash in. You could also store downloaded Xbox Live Arcade games on it. If you started to run out of space, you could transfer stuff you don’t use much over to your Argo.

Plus, when playing at home, WiFi has a pretty far reach. Your Argo could be sitting in its dock charging and you could be accessing it from your Xboy.

Comment by Enki on 2006-07-11 19:52:38 | Reply

first off it’s ms/xbox branded, it’ll be about 600 bucks. second off you’ll have to buy an upgrade to get “extra” gameplay functionality. It will have software problems, i’ve been using comps for over 20 years I’ve yet to EVER see a ms problem that doesn’t have horrible problems upon release it’s their mo, GET IT OUT THERE NOW deal with problems later. And to the idiot who thinks windows won over apple cause it was better? go learn something, it won (for the single same reason the ipod did) it was out there first. Now I actually doubt the ipod will be outdone and no the zen doesn’t outdo it. If it’s got native networking, you have native security problems don’t try to argue this one, hell even cell phones had/have problems. ehh nuff ranting for now

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-12 10:20:42 | Reply

Oh yeah, cos the Xbox has such an inflated price tag compared to other machines coming on to the market doesn’t it.

You tube.

Comment by Larryr on 2006-07-11 20:30:53 | Reply

havn’t we had enough from MS yet? They love to chase other manufactures product, just like they did with zerox back in the late 70’s. Oh thats right half of responders on here are not that old to remember the good old days of Home brew club. Just face facts. Apple makes a better product hands down. Please dont give in the other side and increase MS profit with just more MS garbage…they will so many probelms with it, you know it, we all know it. Little do we forget all the past window products. Fix after fix…

Comment by Charles on 2006-07-11 21:15:55 | Reply

Yall are silly. First MS didn’t make its money as a software company but as an aquisition company. As in they bought a bunch of companys at convenient stock related times.

Also though everyone constantly complains about MS, we still all owe them quite a bit of loyalty. (I don’t know how many of you remember these times) But when computers first started out there was ZERO compatibilty. If I did one thing at home there was no guarantee that it would work at the office. If someone tried to send me a file I would’t necissarily be able to open it on my computer. I am quite thankful for MS and windows and unless you all just love not being able to share information you should be too

Comment by cgRider on 2006-07-11 21:36:31 | Reply

well put chuck.

Comment by Chris Stevens on 2006-07-12 00:34:07 | Reply

When exactly is vista going to ship? Oh yeah, maybe January 2007. rigt after they make sure they have copied enough stuff out of OS X 10.4. Observe and improve. But by then OS X 10.5 Leopard will be out. BTW, you all are aware that the motto from Microsoft isn’t “observe and improve”. It’s “ship it and we’ll fix it later”. No kidding. That started when they assimilated Front Page.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-12 10:22:18 | Reply

Shut up you nonce.

Comment by Chris Stevens on 2006-07-12 14:57:27 | Reply

Observe and improve.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-12 15:14:02 | Reply

Don’t see why everyone has it so bad for MS. they have provided lots of good products and innovation to the market, without the competition provided by MS other companies wouldn’t strive to better themselves, thats just part of business.

Companies get taken over, ideas get stolen and improved upon, MS arn’t the worlds only culprits of this practice it happens wherever you look.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-12 15:15:31 | Reply

Look at my posts for instance, the last one was nasty, I realised the error of my ways and then improved it to provide my way of thinking. you nonce.

Comment by Chris Stevens on 2006-07-13 14:50:47 | Reply

Yes, they have provided a lot of good products. But not GREAT products. That’s the difference. MS needs to stick to software. And Glovner needs to stick to popping pimples in the mirror before school. Before you start 8th grade, buy a macbook.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-14 13:07:25 | Reply

Okay, but am 27 have never suffered from acne and you are still a knob.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-14 13:18:33 | Reply

Apple is a good system for artistic work I will give them that, I use it for music and I know a lot of people that use it for graphic work, but if you are being honest, which you really aren’t Microsoft beat them at everything else.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-14 13:39:21 | Reply

And why would I even need a macbook to go to school with, or are you incapable to use your hands to write with, you crippled arse.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-07-17 12:02:22 | Reply

Here was me coming back into work today hoping cock stevens would have replied but as yet nothing.

Bitch.

Comment by Byrn on 2006-09-27 10:37:30 | Reply

While it’s fun listening to the Apple fanboys bitching, remember one thing. The Apple/Windows OS thing has nothing to do with the OS itself. Windows runs on an open format hardware system, we call it “PC”; it is cheap and easily configurable with many manufactures making components for thousands of purposes, as opposed to Mac which is expensive and as configurable as a brick, with one manufacturer making 5 flavours.

The iPod only works is you install the bloat-ware that comes with it(similar to that which the apple fan boys are always complaining about with windows), it doesn’t like certain formats, and is as servicable as teh afore-mentioned brick. So it’s white and “hip”; who cares? I want a media player that works; if Microsoft supply it, I’ll buy it: Hell if Satan himself supplied it I, and people all over the world will buy it, because it works, not because it’s “hip”, or becasue I’m a blinded fan-boy.

Comment by Byrn on 2006-09-27 10:41:38 | Reply

(Waits for flame and pedantic fan-boys to pick holes in typing)

Comment by The_Glovner on 2006-09-27 15:12:57 | Reply

Completly agree with everything you have said.

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