Apple has unleashed its market-winning iTunes Music Store for Windows users, too, increasing its potential market by a factor of 20.
During his presentation to mark Apple's entrance into the Windows side of the emerging digital music market, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the iTunes Music Store already accounts for 70 per cent of legal music downloads. Apple sells 600,000 songs each week, he stressed, adding: "And this is Mac-only". Over 13 million songs have been sold online since April 28, he added. The service will offer 400,000 tracks by the end of the month, he said.
iTunes software now supports Windows XP and Windows 2000, as well as Mac OS X.
2nd generation Jobs said: "The iTunes Music Store has revolutionized the way people legally buy music online, and now it’s available to millions more music lovers with iTunes for Windows. While our competitors haven't even come close to matching our first generation, we're already releasing the second generation of the iTunes Music Store for Mac and Windows."
Apple is offering Windows users the whole widget - the cross-platform iPod MP3 player, iTunes music software and the iTunes Music Store.
The company has focused on offering Windows users feature-parity: all the features Mac users enjoy within iTunes are available in the Windows variant, Jobs called the iTunes for Windows: "The best Windows software ever written".
It's available for free download, and supports both MP3 and AAC encoding from audio CDs as well as 250 Internet radio stations. It also offers support for Smart Playlists, custom playlists, the ability to burn the latter to CDs in both audio and MP3 formats, DVD burning for backing-up and support for Rendezvous.
The Rendezvous support means a Windows-bound music-fan equipped with iTunes can playback the iTunes library installed on a Mac that's connected to the same network. Demonstrating this feature led Jobs to use a Windows PC, which may have caused some Mac users psychological damage.
Celebrity Playlist The iTunes Music Store now features exclusive tracks from over 60 artists, including new exclusives announced yesterday from: Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, The Eagles, The Grateful Dead, Ben Harper, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah McLachlan, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Sting and Luther Vandross.
Apple continues exploring its relationship with the Mac-friendly music industry with the introduction of a new Celebrity Playlist feature with personal playlists created by popular stars, including Michelle Branch, Dave Brubeck, Billy Corgan, Counting Crows, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, Ben Folds, Herbie Hancock, Jack Johnson, Kenna, Wynton Marsalis, Moby, Mark Ronson, Seal, Sting and Michael Stipe.
Apple also kept up with the times. Last week's Napster 2.0 preview drew praise for certain features Apple also introduced last night, such as album reviews, artist biographies and lists of must-have albums for artists.
Today's teenagers love to shop, and Apple recognizes this - but unlike certain fast-food giants, the company has introduced a brand-new feature to help parents stay in control of their children's musical appetites - an 'Allowance' feature in iTunes Music Store.
Allowance (patent-pending) lets parents automatically deposit funds into their offspring's iTunes Music Store account each month. This helps parents provide a legal alternative to illegal file sharing for their children. Online gift certificates that can be sent to friends and family via email have also been introduced.
The new iTunes Music Store continues to offer Mac and Windows users fast searches by title, artist or album, free 30-second song previews, as well as the capacity to burn their purchases to an unlimited number of CDs for personal use, installation of tracks onto any mix of three Mac or Windows computers, and also onto an unlimited number of iPods.
iTunes for Mac and Windows includes the iTunes Music Store and is available as a free download. Sadly, songs remain available for purchase only to Mac and Windows users in possession of a valid credit card with a US billing address. To use the store, existing users require iTunes 4.1.
Apple has made Jobs' product presentation available to view from its website in QuickTime.