Microsoft presses play on digital music deal

Microsoft presses play on digital music deal

Microsoft said Thursday it will pair with two major record labels in a digital music subscription service that will make use of the software maker's digital media technology and its MSN Internet service.

Pressplay, a joint venture between Vivendi Universal SA and Sony Music Entertainment Inc., has agreed to use Microsoft's Windows Media Audio (WMA) digital music file format and digital rights management (DRM) technology for its subscription music service to be launched in the third quarter. The companies have also agreed to offer a cobranded version of Pressplay available through Microsoft's MSN Music Web site.

The fee-based music download service is the music labels' response to the digital music technologies made popular by Napster Inc., and other online music services. It allows users to search the vast catalog of music from Sony and Universal Music Group and download songs on demand. The subscription service also allows MSN Music users to create and share personalized playlists.

Sony and Vivendi Universal created the service to be available through other affiliates such as Microsoft. The first company to sign on to the service was Yahoo. As part of the deal, Pressplay will be able use Microsoft's DRM technology and Windows Media file format, which competes against MP3 and RealNetworks Inc.'s RealAudio, with all of its affiliates, Microsoft said.

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