Hot on the heals of Apple's extension of iTunes Music Store across Europe, Microsoft has extended the reach of its MSN music download service to eight more European countries.

According a Reuters report, Microsoft now has a music download presence in 17 countries, including 13 in Europe.

Apple currently has coverage in 12 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, as well as UK, France and Germany.

Microsoft is launching download stores in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland. Microsoft launched services in UK, France and Germany in August. MSN music download is also available in Italy and Belgium.

Microsoft MSN's Arndt Salzburg said: "If you take all the new countries, we expect to overtake iTunes very soon because we will have a larger user base to tap."