Microsoft must be scared shitless of the iPod. For Microsoft to file a patent for something they didn’t invent and for which there are years of prior art in order to beat Apple to the patent office is nuts.
Apple: Your iPod is very cool, it is the most popular player and the future is bright for the little white wonder. Microsoft: Windows Media is a also-ran to iTunes, your interface stinks, and the portable players are a joke.
When you focus on quality and ignore time-to-market or price pressures (remember when the iPod was the most expensive, now it’s less than iRiver, etc.) you end up with a better, more consumer friendly product. You certainly don’t hear people talking about a player made by Creative or even Sony/Phillips.
Reference: Apple, Microsoft Duel Over IPod Patent
While the lawyers will yet again make money over a nonsense argument (prior art will invalidate the MS patent most likely), the only outcome of this dispute is some press time for both companies.