MSN Music Killing Download Service Nov. 14; Will Push Zune, Rhapsody Instead

Ending months of confusion about MSN’s download music strategy, the two-year-old MSN Music store — which never really gained traction in the competition with Apple — will stop selling downloads Nov. 14. Traffic being redirected instead to RealNetwork’s Rhapsody or the new Zune Marketplace, according to a note on the site. A message with similar info went out today to MSN Music users, Cnet reports.; the site had the story first.
Zune runs completely contrary to the MSN Music notion of selling WMA-based music that could be played on any PlaysForSure devices, opting instead for a closed system relying on a new format. Why Rhapsody? It goes back to the 2005 settlement between Microsoft and RealNetworks; one aspect keeps Microsoft from promoting any music service more prominently than Rhapsody.
— MSN Radio will be free
— The recent MSN deal with Control Room (formerly Network Live) highlights the new emphasis of MSN Music on content, not sales.
— Downloads already purchased can still be played, transferred to PlaysForSure devices and burned to CDs for personal use.
— “Buy” buttons will change to links to Rhapsody and Zune.
Update: Meanwhile, the Zune site is now online.
Related: MSN Music Launches Formally; European Stores Launched
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