The Microsoft Corporation announced today that it will be launching what is being called an "iPod killer" in Europe in the second half this year. The new gadgets will play movies and store photos and music files, running on MS' Portable Media Center.

The Portable Media Center software has not been unveiled as yet. Microsoft is working in collaboration with several tech manufacturers, including Creative Technology and Korea's iRiver International. MS is predicting hot Christmas sales.

The devices will initially be launched in Sweden, the UK and Denmark, with France, Italy, Germany and Spain receiving launch dates towards the end of 2004. The player will be available with 20 or 40 gigabytes of storage and will run on Windows CE.