Microsoft may launch its own digital music distribution service next month.

Warning that the service is likely to appear quietly as an option on the company's MSN portal while final glitches are sorted out, (citing The Financial Times) predicts iTunes Music Store-like prices (79p, 99c) on a pay-per-download basis.

This news follows The Guardian's report earlier this week of "strong music industry rumours" suggesting Microsoft plans to launch its own service.

Macworld has heard some suggestions that Microsoft has been quietly securing licenses for such a service so far this summer.

The Guardian report warned of a, "nightmare clash of technologies as Microsoft prepares a multi-million pound launch into the market".