Microsoft and MTV Get a Music Urge

Microsoft and Viacom unit MTV have announced they plan to develop a joint digital music service called Urge for 2006.

The companies have revealed few details regarding the new service’s pricing, availability, or technical implementation, save that the companies expect the service to feature more than 2 million tracks for download from both major music distributors and independent labels, as well as original content and material produced for MTV Networks. Urge is expected to debut in the U.S. during 2006.

The companies plan to integrate Urge into a new version of Microsoft Windows Media Player, which may raise the spectre of antitrust issues for the Redmond software company, which recently settled antitrust allegations involving RealNetworks’ alternative music player and music services for $761 million. RealNetworks operates Rhapsody music subscription service; Urge would also potentially be competing with Apple’s market-leading iTunes Music Store, Yahoo Music, and possibly Microsoft’s own MSN Music service. Tying Urge to Windows Media Player could also mean Urge may only be available on the Windows platform.

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