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Napster ponders Microsoft as technology partner

And tried to get Bill Gates to buy it, apparently

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Napster is talking to Microsoft about licensing Windows Media Technology as the basis for its future subscription-based, copyright-protecting music sharing service.

According to a report in the LA Times, a Napster spokeswoman confirmed that the two companies are indeed exploring how the beleaguered software developer might take advantage of Microsoft technology.

However, she added, Microsoft is only of a number of companies Napster is talking too regarding licensing the basis for a secure music distribution system.

However, the paper's sources suggest that Napster's negotiations with Microsoft run rather deeper than that and both parties have even gone as far as to discuss M$' acquisition of the MP3 sharing company.

Microsoft was said to be uninterested in such a deal, which isn't entirely surprising - acquiring Napster would bring Microsoft a valuable brand name, but one that wouldn't exactly endear it to the music industry.

Far better to use Napster to promote its technology. If it works, and Napster's reputation is restored, Microsoft can buy the company then. If Napster dies the death - either because its fans reject the subscription service or the recording industry kills it - Microsoft can shrug its shoulders and say it was only a technology provider.

Either way, it ends up in a better position than it's in now, having grown WMT's user base, raised the technology's profile and gained experience in how this music sharing thing can be made to work legally. ®

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