After selling 13 million downloadable songs to Macintosh users in the last six months, Apple is unleashing its 99-cents-a-tune iTunes Music Store on a much larger market. The Mac makers launched iTunes for Windows on Thursday at apple.com, making the music store accessible to the users of the most popular operating system (only 3 percent of personal computers are Macs).
''This isn't some baby version of iTunes -- it's the whole thing,'' Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said at a San Francisco press conference, according to Reuters. The service should hold special appeal for Windows-based users of Apple's portable music player, the iPod, which is meant to work seamlessly with iTunes.
The launch of iTunes for Windows is another sign of hope for the embattled, piracy-plagued music industry, which began to take the legitimate online market more seriously with the success of the original iTunes store this year. Along with existing Windows-based music services such as RealOne's Rhapsody (www.listen.com), Apple will face competition from a new, legal version of Napster, which launches Oct. 29. Not to mention even harsher competition from the likes of file-sharing services such as Kazaa, on which users are still making millions of songs available to each other for free.