Microsoft's attempt at a digital music distribution service "falls just short" of Apple's iTunes, says The Washington Post.

Despite waiting before launching its service so it could learn from other operators mistakes, Microsoft has not yet surpassed Apple's service, the report explains.

In many respects, MSN Music reflects other stores: songs generally cost $0.99, it can be accessed using a browser or directly from within the media player, 600,000 songs are available, and downloads can be played on five different computers and an unlimited number of music players.

While the reviewer sees the service as superior to most - Wal-Mart, Napster and MusicMatch, "Microsoft's real competition is iTunes - a benchmark Microsoft doesn't meet".

"For this store to start winning market share from iTunes, Microsoft has more work to do," the report concludes.