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Can it deliver more variety than online webcast competitors like Pandora or Last.fm? That would make it a viable entry in the field.
MICROSOFT READY TO
HEAR THE MUSIC
Bill Gates' Company Reportedly Preparing to Launch Its Own Streaming Music Service by End of Month
Another giant enters the online music fray.

Microsoft is planning on launching its own streaming music service by the end of July, according to a report in the U.K. Telegraph.

A Microsoft exec said the service would likely resemble the much-praised Spotify, a popular European start-up that combines ad-supported free streaming music with a premium ad-free subscription option and the ability to purchase songs by download. There is speculation the service could be built on top of the technology of Seeqpod, another music startup.

MSA executive producer Peter Bale told the Telegraph that the new music service could tie in to the company's XBox gaming and entertainment system and would also involve the Zune experience, the company's so-far unsuccessful attempt to unseat Apple's iPod.

This spring there was speculation that Microsoft had acquired failed MP3 search engine Seeqpod, which did a great job searching for media, but got hit with a series of copyright lawsuits from the major music labels. The company argued that it was only indexing media files that other people were posting, not posting them themselves.

Bale says the new Microsoft music service will compete based on scale and quality of product. Can it deliver more variety than online webcast competitors like Pandora or Last.fm? That would make it a viable entry in the field.

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