When I learned about Microsoft's plans to make a digital music player, I was generally underwhelmed. Several other companies including Toshiba, Sony, and Creative have attempted to challenge the iPod's dominance of the digital audio market with little success. But according to Engadget, Microsoft might have an incentive that could tip the scales in their favor:

To attract current iPod users Microsoft is going to let you download for free any songs you've already bought from the iTunes Music Store. They'll actually scan iTunes for purchased tracks and then automatically add those to your account. Microsoft will still have to pay the rights-holders for the songs, but they believe it'll be worth it to acquire converts to their new player.

Microsoft's player, due in November, will also have a bigger screen than the iPod Video and use Wi-Fi in order to download music on the go and connect to a unique social network composed of other owners of the device. These technological advances might be enough to depose the iPod from its lofty position as the world's most popular music player.

But does that mean I will be buying one? No. It is extremely unlikely that Microsoft's player will be compatible with my operating system of choice. It is also likely to use repugnant DRM in an ostensible effort to protect the rights of music artists. It is also unlikely to support music formats like FLAC and AAC, which a substantial amount of my music collection is encoded in. As a result, my next digital audio player will probably be made by Cowon.