Microsoft and its existing hardware partners are the most likely to suffer bad effects from the company's 'iPod killer' plans, Macworld readers believe.

We asked readers who would suffer most from Microsoft's iPod killer plans. 42 per cent of the 1,708 votes received - 722 readers - warn that MP3 player makers (other than Apple) would be the most likely victims of Microsoft's market move.

"It will be Microsoft's partners, who have promoted Windows Media and the exisiting Play For Sure campaign who will suffer first," one reader wrote.

"Unless the Microsoft offering is completely pants, I guess it will pretty much wipe out the non-Apple competition for MP3 players, except for the cheapest of the cheap pen-drive type devices," another observed.

Another reader is rankled at Microsoft's continued belligerence at gaining market share everywhere: "Why can't Microsoft products co-exist? Why do they have to consume, take over, obliterate and kill all the time?"

Readers warn (36 per cent of readers, 616 readers in all) that Microsoft may suffer too. The company has confirmed itself to be willing to spend heavily on making a successful iPod competitor, but stands to lose millions if it fails.

Other likely losers appeared to be "consumers" (12 per cent, 210 votes) and "record companies" (2 per cent, 29 votes).

Just 7 per cent of readers (123 votes) think Apple will suffer at Microsoft's debut into its music market.

"I think it's going to be a very complicated situation. Steve Jobs will relish the opportunity to humiliate Microsoft now that it has chosen to fight him where he is strongest. There's no doubt that he will launch the most innovative iPod possible to leave the Zune in the dust. Winners: consumers. Losers: Microsoft's former partners who were making other MP3 players.

"My feeling is that Zune won't live up to the hype and will spectacularly fail on its own," one reader remarked.