Microsoft’s Music Store Beta

Microsoft have made a beta version of their new music store available to the public. The store is entirely browser-based and does not require a separate client like iTunes. The iTunes store has many more features, but then it’s an application – taken together with Windows Media 10, the MSN Store becomes much more useful than on its own.

Artist pages have a couple of features not seen on previous music stores – like “Buy Tickets” and “Find Lyrics”, but these just trigger web searches, showing that the store is integrated with MSN’s search facilities. Microsoft are hoping to make more use of this integration with the new version of MSN Search in the future – searching for bands on their search site will return direct links to buy music.

Songs have ratings on the page, on the same line as “Buy track” – and providing you trust strangers’ opinions, might be a useful feature for the easily swayed. Previews are available, but there’s no progress bar to tell you how far through the track or preview you are.

The selection of music is pretty much as expected, though there are a few bands that you won’t get on iTunes – Kraftwerk, for example. The much-hyped internet début of the Beatles is yet to happen.

Naturally, all tracks are sold in WMA format, version 10 of which is out tomorrow, though the full version of the store itself is not expected to launch now until October.

MSN Music Beta

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?