Given Microsoft’s recent sparring with AOLTW and its ongoing battle with digital media format competitor RealNetworks, it would be no surprise that the Redmond, WA-based company is lining up on the Pressplay side.

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Microsoft, the world-dominating company with a benevolent touch, is close to a deal to distribute Pressplay through its Microsoft Network. An announcement to that effect is expected, just as soon as our computers, all running Windows 98, stop crashing.

All the way back on June 12, rumors began circulating, via Microsoft-developed e-mail software, natch, that the behemoth would be joining the Vivendi Universal-Sony joint venture, which was formerly known as Duet.

Pressplay already has a similar deal with Yahoo that has the portal hosting and promoting the music streaming and—eventually—downloading service.

Given Microsoft’s recent sparring with AOLTW and its ongoing battle with digital media format competitor RealNetworks, it would be no surprise that the Redmond, WA-based company is lining up on the Pressplay side. MusicNet, the competing stream and download service from the majors, is an AOLTW-Bertlesmann-EMI-RealNetworks JV. Both Pressplay and MusicNet say that their services will be up by "late summer."

Look for part of the Microsoft-Pressplay deal to include using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player as an option for Pressplay outlets, just as its competitor MusicNet will employ the RealPlayer. And look for interviews with Pressplay’s Andy Schuon and Michael Bebel and MusicNet’s Richard Wolpert by the very-sexy Jon O’Hara in the HITS Internet Issue, which streets tomorrow, unless our computers crash again.

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