Microsoft chairman/chief software architect Bill Gates expressed the importance of consumer choice in digital music during his keynote speech today (Oct. 12) at his company's Digital Entertainment Any

Microsoft chairman/chief software architect Bill Gates expressed the importance of consumer choice in digital music during his keynote speech today (Oct. 12) at his company's Digital Entertainment Anywhere conference at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

"Once you've picked the music stores you like, that should in no way constrain the devices the music works with," said Gates.

The conference coincided with the official launch of the MSN Music Service as well as digital music service launches from FYE and XM Satellite Radio. Each service operates within Microsoft's Windows Media Player 10.

To further express the notion of interoperability, Microsoft unveiled its "PlaysForSure" logo, indicating the interoperability among portable devices, digital music stores and PCs that run Windows Media Center. Virgin Electronics, Rio, iRiver and AudioVox each announced the retail release of "PlaysForSure" digital music devices.

"With PlaysForSure, you don't have to think about file formats or conversion because you'll know the richness of the experience will play across those devices," said Gates. "It should be as simple as picking a few playlists and having them right there."

The PlaysForSure emblem could be considered the next iteration of the digital music industry's desire to create a standard for store/device interoperability. In July, RealNetworks unveiled its Harmony technology, which made tracks from the RealPlayer Music Store compatible with Apple's popular iPod players for the first time. Previously, music from the Real download store was not compatible with iPod due to the companies' competing digital rights management standards. The iPod, which analysts claim has a market share of more than 40% among portable music players, is not a PlaysForSure-certified device.