Microsoft and Ericsson today announced a device that will play Windows Media audio files on Ericsson's R520 handset.

The prototype device, which will be demonstrated at the CeBit IT technology show in Germany this week, enables the R520 to play WMA files as well as streaming internet radio, Microsoft said.

Handsets that can play WMA files are already available in Japan. The companies said they see a bright future for such devices as higher speed transmission technologies such as GPRS (general packet radio service) and third generation mobile networks become available.

Microsoft launched beta versions of Windows Media Audio and Video 8 in December. Files encoded using the beta release can play audio files that are near CD quality but are only one-third the size of MP3 files, the company said.