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Microsoft Offering Portable TV Service

Television addicts rejoice: Now you can take more shows on the road. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has launched a $19.95-a-year service that lets people download certain TV shows to portable devices such as media players and advanced cell phones.

The Redmond-based software company has already let customers watch free short clips of some shows on Windows-based portable devices.

With the new service, MSN Video Downloads (search), customers will have access to more content — sports highlights and some shows from Fox Sports, news and business headlines from MSNBC.com and children's programming from Cookie Jar Entertainment.

Users simply log onto a Web site using a traditional laptop or desktop computer. They can download the shows and transfer them to portables.

The service marks Microsoft's latest effort to get people interested in Portable Media Centers and other devices that use its Windows Media Player (search) technology for watching movies and listening to music.

The company's competition includes Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) popular iPod music player.

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