It might not seem like it but Microsoft could well be looking to challenge Apple on its preferred turf, digital music downloads, as it launches a new music download feature across its MSN mobile portal as a rival to iTunes and others.
The service will allow punters to download one million tracks from either Sony, EMI or Warner for £1.50 each directly to their handsets regardless of their networks - provided they are one of the 130 models compatible with the service.
Microsoft has partnered with VidZone Digital Media to roll out the service which will also include 25000 realtones and 10000 music videos which will be charged at £3 and £2 respectively. The money will be either deducted from the user's balance (if on PAYG) or charged on their phone bill (if a pay monthly contract).
Hugh Griffiths, Director of MSN Mobile UK, has already promised that more handsets will be added in the near future and stressed on the fact that MSN mobile is already the UK largest commercial non-operator mobile portal, only 12 months after its launch.
Users can access the portal either buy directing their browser to msn.co.uk or by texting MSN to 63463, following which they will be sent a link and can start their downloads straight away... in theory.
Will it work? well, PC Pro hasn't been able to make it work with an iPhone. Not a surprise. Then they failed to connect to the service with the Vidzone WAP service spewing out error messages. Did we also mention that all tracks on Microsoft mobile are err.... DRM protected....
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We would dearly want MSN Mobile Music to work and interface nicely with Windows Mobile smartphone and Zune PMP. But after having seen what Microsoft has to offer, we were sorely disappointed with what looks like a non-event. The choice of music tracks is abysmal, the price is too high, nearly twice that of Apple's iTunes, the tracks are DRM protected and it is likely that the tracks will be tied to your phone.