WSJ.com - Apple's iPod May Meet Its Match In New Microsoft System "Apple Computer Inc.'s success in the online music market seems to have settled an industry debate, showing that more consumers prefer to own music outright rather than rent access to a smorgasbord of songs for a monthly fee. But a new technology from an old Apple nemesis -- Microsoft Corp. -- may give a big boost to the rental approach in coming months.
The Microsoft technology is likely to be the first in a series of more vigorous challenges to Apple's position in the music market, including a raft of new audio and video gadgets due out by Christmas that will compete with Apple's hit iPod music player. Microsoft itself plans to compete directly with Apple's iTunes Music Store through a music retail Web site expected from its MSN division as early as the fall.
Microsoft's greatest impact on the market, though, may come with the release of the new version of its widely used software for preventing music piracy, called Windows Media Digital Rights Management. One of the most intriguing uses of the technology -- better known inside the industry by its code-name, Janus -- is that it will let subscribers to music-rental services, for the first time, transfer their song collections from their PCs directly to portable audio players. That capability has been a key missing feature of such services."