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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 13:18 GMT
MSN's download service expanding

A digital music player from Creative
Microsoft hopes new music players can help it claim Apple's crown
Microsoft has launched its MSN music download service in eight more European countries as the software giant bids to takes on Apple's market leading iTunes.

MSN is now available in 17 countries, while iTunes is available in 13.

But both firms face competition from the likes of Yahoo and Napster in the growing music download sector.

Analysts say a download service has become important to Microsoft as it focuses on creating new software to play digital music and videos.

The company also hopes its music service will draw more users to its web portal and thus enable it to increase advertising revenue.

Microsoft recently signed a deal with Creative Labs, a maker of portable digital music players, in an attempt to increase download sales. An MSN CD is to be included with Creative products.

Overtaking iTunes?

Microsoft said its new download stores in Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland followed an agreement with music download distributor Loudeye.

In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland the new MSN service will be run in conjunction with online retailer CDON.com.

The success of the iPod portable music player, launched in October 2001, has transformed not just the financial performance of Apple, but reenergised the whole music download market.

It is credited with helping to make Apple's iTunes service the world's most popular music download site.

Apple's iTunes launched in nine new European countries last month.

But rivals are closing in.

"Today's announcement sees us extend our reach to more markets in Europe than any other music provider, demonstrating MSN's global commitment to the fast-growing digital music sector," said Geoff Sutton, regional general manager of MSN Europe.




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