Microsoft Readies 'Monaco' Answer to Apple's GarageBand

Some industry watchers have portrayed Apple Computer's decision to make Windows available as a dual-boot on Intel-based Mac OS X systems as a big win for Microsoft.

Microsoft doesn't seem to be taking the move as a sign that it can call off the dogs, however.

Microsoft is still pushing full-steam-ahead with a music-making program, code-named "Monaco," according to Microsoft partners who requested anonymity.

Monaco would be very similar to Apple's GarageBand application, but would be optimized to take advantage of Windows Vista and the Aero user interface.

GarageBand is Apple's Mac OS X application for amateur musicians. It comes with 1,000 pre-recorded sampled loops, and 50 sampled or synthesized instruments that can be played using a MIDI keyboard connected to the computer, or using an on-screen keyboard.

Monaco will be aimed at the same audience, sources said, and will be positioned in the same way — except that it will work on Windows only.

Microsoft also is expected to play up Monaco's use of Microsoft-devised search algorithms for finding particular music clips.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on Monaco.

One Microsoft-media-savvy programmer said if and when Microsoft delivers such a product, "I'd be very interested in running it on Vista or Windows XP."

One partner said Microsoft might use Monaco as a showcase Vista application, similar to the Microsoft "Max" photo-sharing application, upon which a team of Microsoft developers is working. Max is optimized to take advantage of Vista's Windows Presentation Foundation and Aero technologies.

It's not clear whether Microsoft is considering bundling Monaco with Vista.

Apple makes GarageBand available as part of iLife, a suite of applications for creating and organizing digital content. Other iLife applications include iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes and iWeb.

Apple unveiled the third iteration of GarageBand, GarageBand3, at the 2006 Macworld Conference and Expo.

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