Microsoft to Silence MSN Music Downloads After Zune Launch

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft recently announced a big change to the MSN Music website: as of November 14th (the launch date of the much-hyped Zune), the website will no longer be offering music downloads.

While the MSN Music website will still remain, its focus will change toward offering information such as interviews with musicians and industry news, as well as hosting live concerts.

The biggest change is that the "Buy Song" buttons will be taken off and replaced by links to the Zune and Real Rhapsody websites. In addition, the MSN Radio service will be free. (Source:

MSN Music was launched in September 2004 in response to Apple's popular iTunes store. Microsoft had hoped to usurp a solid portion of the market by attracting non-iPod digital music player owners. However, while the company relied on its multiple compatibilities to ensure success, rival Apple predicted that the website's incompatibility with the iPod would be its downfall.

As it turned out, Apple was right.

Microsoft was never able to fully exploit the market, even failing to become number-two behind iTunes -- a feat attained by eMusic. (Source:

But Microsoft seems to be "getting it" now. The company has taken note that Apple's market dominance may have something to do with the fact that Apple has successfully created an integrated structure which links both digital music player and digital music service. Similarly, the new Zune will have a corresponding Zune Marketplace website, as Microsoft attempts to create its own version of a proven business model. (Source:

Microsoft has assured that customers who have purchased songs from MSN Music will still be able to play, transfer and burn the songs after the download service commences. They have also said that gift certificate balances and credits will be refunded upon request after the service closes. (Source:

Microsoft has often received criticism about its lag to exploit the digital music craze. The change to MSN Music may be another indication of the company's awareness that getting the format right may be the key to success. In just over a week, the world will begin to find out if this time (finally), Microsoft gets it right.

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