Redmond (WA) – In an attempt to form a strong partnership like iPod/iTunes, Microsoft has announced that it will be closing the doors on its MSN Music store in favor of the Zune Marketplace, the music store platform connected to Microsoft’s upcoming portable media device.
The transition period will begin 14 November, when the Zune is released. Starting on that date, the MSN Music site will be replaced with a page that redirects customers to both the Zune Marketplace and partner service, RealNetworks’ Rhapsody.
“After November 14, the ‘Buy’ buttons that you’re used to seeing on MSN Music album and artist pages will change to links that connect you to Zune and to Real Rhapsody,” said MSN Entertainment general manager Rob Bennett.
MSN Music was launched in September 2004, officially catapaulting Microsoft into the ring of iTunes competitors. However, the site failed to really get off the ground, and iTunes maintained its market dominance.
Now, Microsoft is trying to compete with Apple on its entire digital music business, with a similar device/music store combination that has been a main factor of success for Apple’s iPod.
Microsoft is advertising the music streaming service Rhapsody as well, due in part to a legal settlement reached with RealNetworks wherein Microsoft agreed to promote the Rhapsody service.
Existing MSN Music customers will still have access to their purchased content. According to the Web site, users will be able to transfer their songs to a portable device or burn them to a CD, as they’ve always been able to do.