“Microsoft’s MSN Music store shouldn’t surprise anybody. The company with its own operating system, online service, digital-music format and media software was always the likeliest suspect to launch an online music store,” Rob Pegoraro reports for The Washington Post. “But Microsoft didn’t rush to open its store last year, when most of its competitors debuted. Instead, it waited until last month — a delay that allowed it to learn from other stores’ mistakes. MSN Music is by far the most capable rival to Apple’s iTunes Music Store, even if it doesn’t yet surpass it.”
“MSN Music’s catalogue includes about 600,000 tracks, up from 500,000 at the start; Microsoft’s goal is to pass 1 million. (Apple’s store is already there.) You can also transfer each track an unlimited number of times to digital-music players that support Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio format and copy-control technology — i.e., not the iPod,” Pegoraro reports. “I won’t knock MSN for not being iPod-compatible; Apple has chosen not to support other stores’ download formats, and there’s little Microsoft can do about it. But I will knock MSN Music for not offering the elementary ability to print out CD covers, as iTunes does. MSN Music is a U.S.-only shop, unlike iTunes, and doesn’t offer any gift certificates or purchase allowances, although those are planned for later.”
Pegoraro reports, “If you’re not going to shop at iTunes, you’d do well to direct your online-music budget toward MSN. But for this store to start winning market share from iTunes, Microsoft has more work to do.”
Full article here.