Microsoft has released the next generation of its Media Player software for Windows.

Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP, released on Monday, features a better user interface and integrates access to MTV's Urge digital music catalogue.

Urge costs about the same as Apple's iTunes but also offers unlimited downloads for a subscription fee.

Urge songs will not play on iPods. While Windows Media Player is installed on most PCs, analysts say Microsoft could give Apple serious competition - provided Urge works as well as advertised.

Media Player 11 also includes an audio fingerprinting capability that can recognise mislabelled media files, better search capabilities, and an easier-to-use navigation system.