MSN Music Downloads beta service launches today [UK]

Microsoft was originally planning to roll out MSN Music Downloads (beta) back in July this year but due to some quality issues it has finally launched today.

Microsoft has penned deals with the four major music labels: EMI, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony BMG. The software giant expects to offer approximately one million tracks for download at launch. Tracks, on average, cost 79p but in order to purchase tracks or albums customers have to purchase credits. A package of 10 credits costs £7.99. One credit will buy one single the full 10 credits will purchase most of the albums available. Tracks are encoded to 192 kbps and are available in MP3 and WMA formats without DRM protection.

Microsoft is also planning to offer tracks streamed via a service similar to Spotify. According to a Microsoft spokesperson who spoke to TechRadar "as part of the service, free music streaming will be tested on a limited basis. MSN will be running a series of promotions on the MSN website enabling a limited number of users to gain access to this aspect of the beta."

View: MSN Music Downloads

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