The story so far: Pro Tools has traditionally been tied to software, including their LE software which requires an Mbox or 002 interface. Then Digidesign purchased M-Audio,
a company that had become the fastest-growing music maker in the
business by selling hardware accessories for all of Digi's rivals.

Well, if you've been waiting to see what news comes out of Digidesign's M-Audio acquisition, here's your answer: yawn. The new Pro Tools M-Powered is nothing more than a repackaged version of Pro Tools LE that runs on "select" M-Audio devices.
Supposedly this offers a "seamless workflow between studio, stage, home
and the road" — well, sort of. Not even all M-Audio hardware
interfaces are compatible: your Audiophile 192 and 2496, FireWire 410
and 1814, and Ozonic are M-Powered, while everything else is . . . X-cluded? It's got the same plug-in bundle as the Pro Tools LE that ships with the Mbox but actually lacks the Mbox's "Music Production Enhancement Suite" with limited versions of Live, Reason, AmpliTube, SampleTank, and T-RackS EQ.

Let me say that again: this is Pro Tools LE minus the software bundle
with a handful of M-Audio drivers (and nothing else) thrown in.
US$349.95 list.

Meanwhile, current Mbox users get shafted.Wanted to upgrade to
multi-channel recording? Tough luck, sucker. You're locked into your
Mbox, or you can upgrade to an 002, or you can buy a "select" M-Audio
interface and then re-purchase Pro Tools LE — sorry, "M-Powered."

There's only one thing interesting about this announcement: it's
a tacet admission by Digidesign that they could support other hardware
and simply don't want to. You know, there's an amazing solution to this
whole problem: it's called Core Audio (on Mac) and WDM (and Windows),
and it's supported by every competitor out there. It works
really well: it's really stable and reliable. (In fact, the only Core
Audio driver I've had trouble with is the one for the Mbox.) With
common driver support, your customers can pick whatever audio hardware
they want. Think about it, Digi, won't you?

Nothing against high-end TDM systems — they have their advantages,
and yes, do legitimately require specialized hardware. But if you've
been looking for a truly "seamless workflow
between studio, stage, home and the road," I have two words for you: Ableton Live. And, no, I will not be ReWiring that into Pro Tools LE.