WinXP MP3 plans crystallize

Microsoft's plans to support the MP3 music format in Windows XP have been cloudy for a while now, as it's been rumored the company would include only crippled MP3 functionality in the OS in an attempt to usher consumers toward its own WMA format. The situation is complicated by the fact Microsoft wants to be a media company, not just a software provider, and its potential partners might not look kindly upon support for a music format that doesn't include "digital rights management" (aka copy protection) measures.

Now comes word, according to a CNET report, that MS will include limited MP3 support, then charge extra for "add-on packs" to allow for MP3 encoding and DVD playback. Users will be able to rip and encode WMA files with WinXP's built-in tools. MS might yet be making these moves to steer the market in a certain direction, but the CNET report raises another very good reason: the company would have to pay licenesing fees to include MP3 encoding and DVD support. Maybe they just wanted to avoid paying up.

Whatever the case, I'm still just gonna download WinAmp to play music.

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