MSN is considering introducing subscriptions to its music download site which currently offers songs for sale on an individual basis.
Microsoft is talking to copyright holders and record labels about the new service which will include more community features and playlist sharing.
According to Cnet, which broke the story, Microsoft is also going after Apple more directly. It is trying to do a deal to allow people with iTunes to get a Microsoft version of the songs they have bought. Sources told the newswire that replacing iTunes songs would require agreements with several copyright holders and may prove impossible. More details here.
The newswire also reveals the service will be a separate, downloadable application and won't be bundled into Windows Media Player.
Analysts warned that the software giant will still have to convince people of the benefits of renting rather than buying music.
A spokeswoman for Microsoft told El Reg: "When we launched MSN Music download service last year, we knew also offering a subscription service was an important step in helping people find and discover great music online. We are actively investigating the subscription model, but we don't have anything to share today. Once we are ready to talk more, we'll let you know."®