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HP to bundle iTunes ‘late March’

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Apple's recent launch of a version of its iTunes jukebox software geared toward users of HP and Compaq-branded consumer PCs will be followed later this month by the inclusion of the software with new machines.

HP will start to bundle iTunes "in late March", according to the HTML meta tags at http://www.hp.com/music, which redirects to http://www.hp.com/united-states/music.

The site currently shows a Flash animation that describes HP's upcoming iTunes-based online music store. Embedded within the page, HP's web engineers have noted: "The [iTunes] icon will start shipping pre-loaded on Pavilion and Presario computers in late March and these pages will be the first landing site directed towards hp.com/music."

The text was reported by MacRumors.com today.

Last week, Apple made available for download a version of iTunes for HP users. The 'special' HP/Compaq version of iTunes is version 4.2 of the software, as per the Mac and non-specific Windows versions of the software. The chief difference is believed to be code to allow Apple to track downloads made by HP customers rather than those of its own.

When HP CEO Carly Fiorina launched the company's digital music service last January, she said the online store and Apple iTunes-derived jukebox software would become available this summer, in the same timeframe that the company will launch its own hard drive-based portable music player.

However, it's clear that the launch of the music download service will come sooner. Indeed, it is thought to form the basis of the in-store CD burning service Starbucks launched today with HP's help. Starbucks is offering to sell music through a single, Santa Monica store, but has said it will take the service to ten further outlets "this Spring". ®

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