France may force Apple and Microsoft to figure out a digital detente, making songs bought using either technology interoperable.

The fact that songs bought from iTunes won't work on devices powered by Microsoft and that Microsoft Windows Media songs won't play on an iPod has been subject to criticism.

Some critics state that the lack of interoperability between the two firms and their competing standards is holding the digital music industry back.

Reuters reports the French parliament will this Thursday decide whether to legislate to force interoperability. France's lawmakers will decide on a law which lets consumers convert digital content into any format.

This will make it legal for French consumers to crack digital rights management in order to convert the content they own into another format: so it will be legitimate to take an iTunes song and convert it to play on a Windows-powered media player.

The law aims to ensure that vendors like Apple make it possible to play downloaded content on any device.

France is also debating a new tariff for file-sharing offences. The incumbent French government pushed for strong penalties, but was defeated. Under the new proposals, people who download material illegally would be subject to a fine of €38 and those sharing illegally downloaded material with others would be subject to a fine of €150.