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Microsoft extends MSN music sales into Europe

Stores for eight more nations added

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Microsoft has expanded its MSN music store to eight European countries in a bid to beat Apple's iTunes Music Store.

The move is enabled by MSN's existing digital music partners. The Spanish, Dutch, Austrian and Swiss stores, for example, are operated by Loudeye's European subsidiary, OD2, which is the foundation for MSN's existing European stores.

The MS offshoot is also partnering with CDON.com, a Scandinavian online CD seller owned by Swedish media group Modern Times. It will run four MSN music stores aimed at Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish consumers, respectively.

The move follows Apple's opening a few weeks back of stores targeting buyers in Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Finland.

Even so, MSN hopes to attract more customers than its rival, because there are more PC users than Mac users out there. "If you take all the new countries, we expect to overtake iTunes very soon because we will have a larger user base to tap," Arndt Salzburg, MSN entertainment chief for EMEA and Latin America, according to Reuters.

Of course, that assumes that iTunes buyers are only Mac users, ignoring the significant number of iPod owners who connect the player to a PC. Indeed, it's the iPod connection that's likely to keep iTunes ahead of MSN and others for the time being. MSN competes with Napster in the UK for non-iPod users.

Salzburg claimed the MSN Music store was profitable business, but declined to provide details. ®

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