The only way to tackle illegal file-sharing networks is to provide legitimate, quality competition, an Apple executive said yesterday.

Speaking at Jupiter Research's Plug.IN music conference yesterday, Apple director of marketing for applications and services Peter Lowe said: "The way to go after illegal file-sharing services is to compete with them – go after their weaknesses.

"People use these services for instant gratification: for most people who use file sharing it is more about flexibility and not about it being free. We aim to take advantages of the weaknesses of illegal sharing services: unreliable encoding; bad connection; no previews; wrong music; no album cover art; and at the end of the day it is stealing – which is bad karma!"

Lowe said Apple iTunes Music Store is aiming to create a legal service that offers simplicity and consistency. Looking at other emerging music services,such as, he explained that Apple does not believe the Web "is the best interface to enjoy music".

Lowe confirmed Apple is "on track" to launch a Windows version of iTunes by the end of 2003, adding that 46 per cent of sales so far have been entire albums: "The disintegration of the album has not happened, contrary to what people are saying."

Apple added a host of new artists to its online catalogue yesterday, including Junior Senior, Diana Ross, Billie Holiday, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, New Order, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Beyonce, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Black Uhuru, and David Holmes.

An exclusive Moby track was also added to the roster – Love of Strings, a remix of a track from the artist's album, 18.

Marketing experts expect that Apple's determination to develop the best digital-music download service will help it consolidate its position before other services appear.

An article in AdAge warns that the "competitive landscape for online subscription music services is likely to heat up over the next six to nine months because of Apple's success so far".

Senior Jupiter Research analyst Lee Black said that Apple's success "proves if you give consumers the rights to the downloads they want, they'll buy them". he added: "Consumers have said as long as they can own it and copy it to other devices, they'll pay for it. Give them usage rights and they'll buy it."