Windows Media 10 player final with MSN online music store?

Expect Microsoft to announce its long-anticipated foray into the online music business this week, raising the competitive stakes for the current market leader, Apple. Microsoft plans to quietly launch the MSN online music store with the new version of its Windows Media 10 player.

Early-release versions of the player look like knock-offs of Apple's iTunes Music Store, complete with brushed nickel finish. But hey, why mess with success? A button in the upper right corner of the player will take consumers to the download store. Microsoft has told entertainment executives that it expects to introduce as many as 130 million people to its music download store as computer users are prompted to update their media player software. And that's not counting the 300 million people who drop by the MSN site.

The software giant also touts the music store's compatibility with nearly 60 digital music players. Not included in the list is Apple's popular iPod. However, reports that Microsoft had scored a Beatles exclusive for the music store are, in the words of the song, ``Nowhere Man.''

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News source: Siliconvalley.com

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