Microsoft and MTV Are Betting on URGE to be The Next Big Thing
By: Spacelab Research Staff
Megacorp Microsoft has launched the beta version of its new Windows Media Player, billed as its next generation media player. They've worked behind the scenes with MTV to create MTV's URGE music service, which uses the new Windows Media Player to play music after you've paid for a subscription.
Once you're in, you can stream as much as you want, over and over, as opposed to Napster's limit of playing a track 5 times before you get cut off. If you want to buy the music through URGE, it's 99 cents a song, and you get to download stuff and move it to your MP3/media player.
It uses Windows Media and Flash to give you all of this, in one seamless experience. This is Microsoft's big attempt to compete with the AppleiTunes experience. The critical difference is that iTunes focuses on stand-alone content, like songs and videos, bought one at a time. Microsoft is going for the overall experience and accesibility angle, like buying a ticket to get in the door and then consuming all of the content you want. What seems to be missing is accesibility to MTV's regular content, like interviews and lifestyle shows, which would make it a real competitor to iTunes. As many of you may have guessed, it doesn't work with an iPod.
They've also added some new features to make it easier to navigate the universe of music libraries that fill people's computers and MP3 players... you get improved search tools, better synch options, and better usability (it's about time). Maybe Microsoft has slowed down on hiring software engineers and finally started hiring some usability experts!
So how will it stack up against the obvious overinflunce has iTunes right now? It might do really well, actually. MTV is still a completely overwhelming force to be reckoned with, and has the kind of global influence Apple wishes it had. Apple might be cooler, but MTV is a global giant. The current tide already seems to be swelling in the direction of accessibility with wireless connectivity in mind. Who cares if you own a song in a wireless world? As long as you can play it anytime you want to, ownership seems kind of irrelevant. This will be a very fun show to watch over the next year as Apple, MTV/Microsoft, and Napster all put on their brass knuckles and duke it out.