July 1st was the first day of Microsoft's fiscal year 2006.

Last year I focused on security (which I will still concentrate on this year), but I have a new concentration. This year I'm challenged with extending the internet delivered) reach of the MSDN Events team to millions of Developers.

I have a plan. And I'll be announcing it soon, but part of what I'm working on is developing a podcasting strategy.

Podcasting, in a nutshell, is like audio-blogging. Your aggregator fetches the new podcast audio files and downloads them to the target of your choice. This might be your desktop, but it might be straight to you "mobile audio device".

My "mobile multi-media experience" has been more or less to Windows centric devices.

My iPaq 5550 with a 1 gig SD card plays .wma files and with a PocketPC Encoder can store 2 full length movies or lots of downloaded MSDN Webcasts.

I have a Creative Zen portable media player (which I LOVE) for video. It's syncs via Windows Media Player, has awesome battery life and ample storage.

For audio I've been using a Sony NW-HD3 and an iRiver (mostly for recording).

Now, the Sony is a fine product. It has 20 Gigs of storage, very compact, very good audio quality.

The thing about the Sony is that, while I like it and I use it, it hasn't really infected my life. I'm a geek and I buy and use geek toys with great regularity. The Sony is…..  Well….  Not an iPod.

I know, I know, I work for Microsoft. Apple is a competitor, blah, blah, blah.

My manager, Mike O'neill (well, now my manager's manager) is a very pragmatic guy. Last week he told me to go out and buy an iPod and really get my head around the "mobile culture".

So at the end of last week - I bought one, and I've spent that last several days connected to it. I LOVE IT!

Let me tell you why.

" The device itself is a 30 Gig iPod Photo. The design of the combined hardware/software interface is just outstanding. Apple has always really "got" the "cool factor" and the consumer user interface.
" The VCR style control circle is totally intuitive and after an hour you can use it without taking it out of your pocket.
" The multiple indexing makes it easy to find what you want, even when you have loaded tons of music.
" The storage is efficient. Using 1/6th of the disk space I could listen for 3 ½  days and never hear the same song twice.
" Loading a CD is trivially easy and does not require the intermediary sep of ripping to a PC hard drive.
" The PC software is easy to use and apparently complete.
" iTunes.com is very cool. Million(s) of songs, all have samples. AUDIO BOOKS - and PODCASTS !
" There's an amazing 3rd party market. On my future shopping list…..
      o A Bose Desktop base.
      o A FM Transmitter to play though my car stereo
      o Bluetooth headset for wireless listening
      o A headphone splitter for dancing with my 2 year old.

So I've been listening to podcasts, auto-synced directly to the iPod via the iTunes client.

I GET IT. With iTunes as my aggregator I can grab the iPod on the way out the door, listen in my car, keep listening at my desk, and in the halls, etc, etc.

This week I'm gonna figure out how to do that with my Sony - at least the auto-sync part. But with the iPod - it's natural.

So - I get it !  My podcast will be on line in two weeks!