Microsoft has admitted that it 'copied' Apple's iTunes Music Store.
The company, which has just released a beta version of its music store, told The New York Times: "Apple set the bar very high. We told our developers: 'Look at how Apple does it'."
The NY Times compares the two stores, stating that: "The Microsoft music store couldn't look more like Apple's iTunes music store if you ran it through a copying machine."
The report goes on to draw the following parallels: "It is priced the same (99 cents a song, $10 an album) and comes with the same rights – the user can copy to 5 computers, burn up to seven copies of the same playlist onto CD's, and download to unlimited pocket players.
"You get the same 30-second previews for free, you use the same Genre pop-up menu for browsing, and you use the same sort of jukebox software to manage your music collection (Windows Media Player 10, which serves the function of Apple's iTunes program). And you get the same one-way auto-synching feature to a pocket music player."
In the light of the similarities, the report asks: "If all other variables are equal (price, selection, features), which music system do people like better: Apple's or Microsoft's?"
While Apple can claim many features that Microsoft can’t, there are a few extras Microsoft can boast that Apple can't. These are albums by Radiohead, AC/DC, Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, notes the report, "there's a catch: you can't buy individual songs from these albums. You have to buy the entire CD's worth".
It is this factor that the NY Times thinks is the real reason why Apple doesn't offer music from these bands. It explains: "It's pretty obvious why Apple and its rivals chose not to list these recalcitrant artists at all. First, the ability to cherry-pick only the desirable songs is a hugely important feature of an online music store. Losing that right is a big setback for the consumer, and possibly the top of a slippery slope to less freedom and more money-grubbing by the record companies."