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Microsoft apes Spotify with ad-stuffed tune streaming

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Microsoft is on the verge of mimicking Spotify, the UK-based music streaming service that serves up audio ads alongside free tunes.

As reported by The Telegraph, Redmond will have its Spotify-like service "ready" by the end of this month. That's in 16 days.

"Music is an important area for Microsoft. We are looking at launching a music streaming service imminently," MSN executive producer Peter Bale told The Telegraph. "It will be a similar principle to Spotify, but we are still examining how the business model will work."

We've asked Redmond to confirm the story, but it has yet to respond.

With Spotify, you can instantly play any song or album in its online jukebox. But every half hour or so, you'll hear about a minute of advertising. For £9.99 a month, however, you can turn those ads off. You can also purchase and download certain tunes and albums via technology from Spotify's download partner, 7digital.

It seems that Microsoft will mimic all aspects of Spotify's service, from ads to the ad-free subscription fee to the download option. "We are looking at how other similar businesses have structured their business models and trying to figure out what will work best for both consumer and Microsoft," Bale said. According to The Telegraph, Microsoft is in talks with several companies about provides a click-to-buy download option.

Bale also indicated that the new service might hook into Microsoft's Xbox gaming console, which already offering access to online flicks. And The Telegraph says the service is "expected to bolster the appeal" of Microsoft's iPod-challenging Zune media player. But that may not mean much considering the Zune's appeal is close to zero.

It's unclear whether Microsoft's music streaming service will be available in the US as well as the UK. At the moment, Spotify is available only in the UK unless you receive an invite.

Redmond's new service will be owned and operated by Microsoft, according to The Telegraph. ®

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