Microsoft launches mobile video download service

Microsoft Corp. has launched a video download service that offers daily television programming, entertainment clips and other digital content for viewing on Windows Mobile-based devices, it said Wednesday.

The MSN Video Downloads service draws on content from Microsoft partners such as CinemaNow Inc., MSNBC.com and TiVo Inc., allowing subscribers to watch video on their smart phones, Pocket PCs and Portable Media Centers.

The service was previewed in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, showing how users can download specially formatted content to their PCs and then transfer it to devices running Windows Mobile software. For the final launch the service has been updated to allow subscribers to select specific content to be downloaded each day, Microsoft said. Users can also turn on an automatic deleting feature that vets files according to how long they have been stored on their PCs, it said.

The software maker has lined up numerous content partners to make video available online and optimized for Windows Mobile-based devices to strengthen the appeal of its mobile software. The Food Network, the DIY Network, Home & Garden Television, Fox Sports and MTV Networks Music are just some of the content providers on hand.

In addition to smart phones and Pocket PCs based on Windows Mobile, a handful of manufactures have signed up to make Portable Media Center devices using the Redmond, Washington, company's mobile software. Creative Labs Inc., for instance, launched its Zen Portable Media Center last year, targeting users who like to view video, music and pictures on the go. Microsoft's new download service is aimed at users of devices like the Zen.

The service is currently being offered only in the U.S. Premium memberships are priced at US$19.95 for one year, allowing access to every MSN video download. It requires Windows XP and Internet Explorer 5 or higher on the user's PC and Windows Media Player 10 and up. Additionally, some content is available for free, Microsoft said.

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