Microsoft says some of its partners will sell portable music-players for 80 per cent less than Apple 's iPod.

MSN corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi told the Goldman Sachs fifth annual Internet Conference that some consumer electronic companies are developing some devices that will "look and feel'" as good as the iPod, while others will offer flash-based memory players that will sell for as little as $50

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, said manufacturers are developing a "multitude'' of players that will work with its online service, which will go live later this year. That gives customers more choices than they have with the Apple service, which works only with the iPod, Mehdi said.