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Friday, August 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Microsoft confirms that Toshiba will make Zune media player

The Associated Press

Microsoft's answer to Apple's iPod will be built by Toshiba, the software company confirmed Friday.

The gadget, which will be one of the products marketed under Microsoft's "Zune" brand, will let people share songs, photos, music playlists and other content with others via a wireless connection. One feature will allow a person to act as a DJ, sending music to up to four other devices.

Toshiba's role was disclosed Thursday when the electronics company filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission. Kyrsa Dixon, a spokeswoman for one of Microsoft's public relations firms, confirmed today that Toshiba will make the device.

Photos included in the filing show a white rectangular device with a large screen and several buttons. The minimalist feel closely resembles Apple Computer's wildly popular iPod.

Dixon said the report is legitimate. She declined to comment further, saying only that the company is expected to release more details in the coming weeks.

A Toshiba spokesman did not immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

Microsoft said in July that it planned to launch a series of music and entertainment products that are expected to compete with Apple's iPod player and iTunes music service, with the first expected to be available this year.

The company has released few details about the undertaking, although it recently warned financial analysts that it will require millions of dollars in investment and will not pay off immediately.

Microsoft also has said that Zune is key to the software maker's overall entertainment ambitions and will capitalize on — and tie into — the company's other entertainment offerings. These include the Xbox video-game console, Microsoft's television technology and the media-focused version of the Windows operating system that lets people do things like record and watch live television.

Still, Microsoft is expected to face tough competition from the iPod and iTunes juggernaut. Other hardware manufacturers, including Creative Technology and Samsung Electronics, offer portable media players using Microsoft's software, although they've had little success against Apple.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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