Microsoft will release a beta version of Windows Media Player 10 today, reports claim.

The release is described by CNet as a "significant upgrade aimed squarely at the portable device market". The software is expected to ship later this year.

Windows Media Player 10 integrates a number of new features designed to support users transferring their content to portable devices. It also offers a better user interface, automatic synnchronization and other advanced features.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg told CNet: "But the key here is that Microsoft will have to work with its partners to create something that's the equivalent of the iPod. None of the rival products have captured hearts and minds of consumers the way the iPod has."