September 3, 2004, 12:00 AM

Microsoft enters digital music market from two directions

Microsoft launched this week its own digital songs download service at But it also launched a new Windows Media Player that lets users link directly from the player to MSN or to several competitors for music downloads.


Adding a new twist to the digital music market, Microsoft Corp. launched this week its own digital songs download service at But it also launched a new Windows Media Player, version 10, that lets users link directly from the players on their computers to MSN or to several competitors, including, Napster and MusicNow for music downloads.

The MSN Music service lets users download music through a web browser or directly from the Windows Media Player. MSN is offering a selection of more than 1 million tracks, at 99 cents per song, from more than 3,000 music labels.

"Our vision is to deliver a seamless, end-to-end experience for discovering, downloading, and playing music, videos, and more, anywhere," says Jonathan Usher, Microsoft`s director of Windows Digital Media marketing. "These releases are an important step forward in delivering on that vision." The new media player also provides direct links to and MusicMatch, and it offers a separate “browse all” link to connect with virtually all other digital music download services.

But users of the Windows Media Player who want to save money can also link directly from it to Music Downloads service, where songs sell for 88 cents each. began offering this week the new Windows Media Player service as the primary music service on its home page, though visitors can also link to a page offering the original service launched in March. The original service requires users to download music through a browser to a separate media player.

The new service makes it easier to search, sample, download, purchase and burn music from a single application, a spokeswoman says.

In addition, users of the new Windows Media Player can shop for digital music from, then link from the media player to the general merchandise section of for extended shopping, the spokeswoman says.


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