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  • The Dresden Dolls

    • 10 out of 10
    • The Dresden Dolls
    • The energetic duet of Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione that make up the Dresden Dolls have created a wonderfully haunting sound in their self-titled album. They have been able to construct an imme

  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

    • 8 out of 10
    • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
    • When I first got hooked to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the only place I could get their debut album, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, was through the band's Web site. I listened to the two tracks a

  • Abnormal Anonymous

    • 8 out of 10
    • Congo Norvell
    • Very few albums manage to capture snapshots of a quality of life in the manner that Congo Norvell's sophomore record, "Abnormals Anonymous," does.

      Comparisons to the Velvet Underground are

  • Now Here Is Nowhere

    • 10 out of 10
    • Secret Machines
    • The Secret Machines' inaugural album, Now Here is Nowhere is both old and new in its sonic assault. The trio's surprisingly big sound evokes Pink Floyd (without ever sounding like any Pink

  • Gimme Fiction

    • 10 out of 10
    • Spoon
    • Gimme Fiction by Spoon is a terrific album by an Austin band that I was lucky enough to catch on an Austin radio station during a Christmas visit.

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Microsoft Planning an iPod Attack for Christmas

Apple's iPod digital media device will come under increased pressure from competitors as early as this Christmas season, a Microsoft executive said in a published report Thursday.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Erik Huggers, head of Microsoft's Digital Media Division, said this fall "there is going to be a number of devices that get close to competing with Apple's iPod."

"There is going to be a whole lineup of products that can compete with Apple in industrial design, usability, functionality and features," he said, naming devices that will bear Microsoft technology from labels such as Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Creative Technology.

Now that Apple has single-handedly taken the market, all the world's consumer electronics makers are zooming in on it," Mr. Huggers said. "They are just not going to let them get away with it. The first quarter of 2006 is going to get very interesting."

Microsoft is helping electronics makers "build world-class devices, that really work well, with great industrial design, with lots of content available, with great software on the PC to make it all work together," Mr. Huggers commented.

But the threat might not be so easy to pull off successfully, according to Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research.

"It's going to take a lot to dethrone Apple. Apple won't sit on its laurels and I expect we'll see another iteration of the iPod for the holiday," said Mr. Gartenberg. "Unless Microsoft is really willing to spend the time and effort to get behind a player or a select group of players, it's not going to happen."

At the moment, Apple holds a 75% share of the U.S. market for digital media devices, according to IDC.

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