Microsoft latest attempt to spread its influence into new business areas - the MSN digital music store - could be online from as early as next month.
The online music market, which archrival Apple's iTunes store is mopping up around 70 per cent of, could see a Microsoft play from August, according to the Financial Times.
The FT claims that while details of a pricing structure aren't confirmed, the record labels are likely to give Microsoft terms similar to those they have given Apple - which would see Redmond peddling pop for 99 cents and 79p a track.
It's thought that the service will be run on a pay-per-download basis - in the iTunes style - rather than on a subscription model, favoured by some song shops, such as Napster.
The song shop is likely to appear as a feature on the MSN homepage - giving it a potential audience of 350 million visitors a month.
The FT adds that it's likely the music store will debut by soft launch, to give Microsoft time to sort out any glitches that crop up in the software before going for a full-on marketing push.