MSN Music streaming: first look MSN Music streaming: first look

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MSN Music streaming: first look

OK, so Mac owners and anyone who’d rather go with Chrome won’t be able to get on board with MSN Music‘s free music streaming service, but for everyone else, it’s shaping up to be an interesting new take on the free, full length song chucking experience online. We’re in on the beta, so we thought we’d give you a first look – read on for the preview.

First thing’s first, the MSN Music streaming feature isn’t a separate app, or tab. As it stands right now, it’s more of a handy bonus for anyone browsing the site already, looking to check out music recommendations from the site.

Logging in with your Windows Live ID while on the Downloads section will bring up three tabs, “home”, “my playlists” and ” my songs”. Skipping over album and song covers within these three pages will pop up a play button just as it would normally. The main difference is that many more songs drop the 30 second preview limit, with a clean Play button appearing instead of one with the number.

MSN Music streaming: no Mac support

You can give it a whack to play instantly, in which case it’ll spring up in the control panel window on the right hand side, which moves up and down the page as you scroll, or choose the playlist option on the right, to add it to an existing list (shown on the far left column) or create a new one, or buy the track if you’ve purchased credits.

Generally, it works well, and is snappy enough, though the lack of scrubbing abilities is a bit odd when there are no restrictions as to how many times you can skip back to the beginning of a track. Most of the features will work in any major browser, like playlists editing, but playing is restricted to Internet Explorer and Firefox on PCs only.

The problem with the MSN Music streaming premise in its current guise is discovering new music. The site is well laid out at first glance, with lots of new albums you can listen to, but what you can and can’t listen to in full still is seemingly arbitrary. On the one hand, we can’t put on Tegan and Susan, but we can play Pixie Lott, which isn’t the way round we’d prefer.

The lack of an easy to use search bar is also a concern, and yet when you get to an artist’s page, there’s often tons to listen to, as you can see in one of the screenshots here.

Obviously Microsoft has a lot to work on here, as moving from 30 second snippets to full free streaming ought to change the ideal site’s layout, but it’s still promising. There are no audio ads, the bane of anyone on We7 or free Spotify. We just hope that Redmond is able to keep things that way if and when it rolls the MSN Music streaming feature to a wider audience.

Take a look at all the picture in our gallery right here, and we’ll shout up as soon as any grand plans for MSN Music streaming get official.

Out TBC | £free | MSN Music

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