Microsoft is preparing its own 'iPod killer' a report claims.

The Mercury News reports Microsoft is designing a handheld gadget that combines video, games and music. It's not just intended to battle Apple's iPod, the company also hopes to compete with Sony and Nintendo with the product.

The design team is led by senior executives from Microsoft's Xbox division, the report claims, including the team leader, system designer and the financial head of the Xbox project.

Interviewed by Business Week in January, Xbox corporate vice president Peter Moore said the proposed product "can't just be our version of the iPod''.

The purported device is unlikely to appear before 2007.

Last week a number of devices based on Microsoft and Intel's Origami concept were unveiled - also described as iPod killers.