Microsoft Launches PlaysForSure Program

Today at the Digital Entertainment Anywhere launch event, Microsoft Corp. Chairman, Bill Gates, together with key partners announced new devices — ranging from ultra-sleek portable music players,Portable Media Centers, Smartphones and Pocket PCs to next-generation digital audio receivers — that make it easy to enjoy a broad range of digital entertainment throughout the home and on the go.In addition, Microsoft announced a broad range of new online music and video services to provide Windows Media® Player 10 users with even more choices in high-quality entertainmentcontent.

When used with Microsoft Windows Media Player 10, many of the devices announced today support entirely new entertainment scenarios for consumers, such as the ability to enjoy literally thousands of songs from a subscription service on a small portable device — all for the price of a single CD. Device manufacturers announcing new products include portable device manufacturers Creative, Dell Inc., Gateway Inc., HP, iRiver America, Rio, Roc Digital, Samsung Electronics America and Virgin Electronics; handset maker Audiovox Corp.; and digital media receiver manufacturers D-Link Systems Inc., Linksys, Omnifi and Roku.

To provide consumers using Windows Media Player 10 with even more choice in great music, video and TV content, Microsoft today announced a dramatic expansion of the online music and video stores available in the player’s Digital Media Mall. This includes new services from Audible.com, Court TV, F.Y.E. For Your Entertainment, MLB.TV, Puretracks, XM Satellite Radio and more, including the final release of MSN® Music. With today’s release of Windows Media Player 10 in more than 20 additional countries, more than 30 new online music and video stores are now available directly within the player. Since its release on Sept. 2, Windows Media Player 10 has proven to be phenomenally popular among Windows® XP users, with more than 17 million copies downloaded in just the first six weeks — a rate of approximately five per second.

“Today’s announcements not only introduce exciting new devices and services, but also bring to life entirely new scenarios for consumers — from taking subscription music on the go to enjoying secured audio and video over a home network,” said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business at Microsoft. “What’s great for consumers is they now have all this choice without having extra complexity; all they have to do is look for the PlaysForSure logo on devices and music services to know they will play together.”

PlaysForSure: The Easy Way to Find Devices and Services That “Just Work” Together

To help ensure a great experience with devices and services, Microsoft today also introduced the PlaysForSure logo and testing program, which is designed to make it easy for consumers to choose portable devices and services that are proven to work well together via Windows Media Player 10. A range of devices and services have already been tested and verified to receive the PlaysForSure logo; the full list is available at http://www.playsforsure.com/. PlaysForSure is supported broadly by leading consumer device manufacturers including Audiovox Corp., Creative, D-Link Systems Inc., Dell Inc., HP, iRiver, Rio, Roku, Samsung Electronics and RCA-brand players from Thomson; by online music and video stores including CinemaNow, F.Y.E. For Your Entertainment, MSN Music, Musicmatch, MusicNow, Napster LLC and Wal-Mart Music Downloads; and by retailers including Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Tower Records and Wal-Mart. Because of this support, this holiday season consumers will see the PlaysForSure logo on many devices, in the best online stores and in a wide variety of retail locations.

“We’re excited about the PlaysForSure initiative and we look forward to participating in the coming months,” said Scott Young, vice president of Entertainment at Best Buy. “We feel PlaysForSure will drive greater consumer understanding of how music devices and online music services that support the Windows platform can work together as part of an attractive solution for our customers.”

“It’s a compelling scenario for consumers: a host of new devices supporting Windows Media, and a growing array of new online media services offering compatible content,” said Susan Kevorkian, senior analyst with IDC’s Consumer Markets program. “The PlaysForSure campaign brings those pieces together, and the combination of multiple devices and services supporting the program is expected to drive growth by appealing to a wide range of budgets and diverse style preferences.”

New Class of Portable Devices From Leading Manufacturers

Microsoft showcased a new class of portable devices available this holiday season that go beyond current-generation products. Each of the devices will support the PlaysForSure logo program, Windows Media Player 10 Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), which offers easier driverless device setup, and Auto Sync for easy transfer of music, photos, video and TV content.

Certain devices, such as the following, also support new scenarios for syncing with music subscription services using Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) 10: