Napster has rolled out a Windows-friendly upgrade of its controversial Napster 2.0 Beta 6 music swapping software in an attempt to win back credibility with the music industry.
The upgrade supports Microsoft's copyright-savvy Windows Media Audio files as well as the MP3 compression format. Napster has promised a version for the Apple Mac platform shortly.
The software upgrade runs on Windows 95, 98 and NT and supports Microsoft's WMA codex, which has built-in security that protects against copyright infringement. Industry heavyweights Sony Music, BMG Entertainment and EMI Recorded Music have said they will release downloadable music tracks in WMA. The upgrade also includes instant messaging, a built-in web browser, advanced search and a download feature for an unlimited number of tracks.
Industry watchers said Napster is attempting to get back in favour with the music industry by releasing the upgrade, and that the company wants its website to be viewed as a service and not as a digital piracy tool. Several copyright infringement lawsuits have been filed against Napster by artists such as Metallica and Dr Dre, and by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Napster maintains that it is a "mere conduit" for data, and that it provides a service similar to a ISP because it does not store music tracks, but merely provides a music file swapping service. The company said it is not responsible for music tracks on its service, although every effort is made to make sure they are not copyrighted.
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