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MusicMatch unveils new jukebox-to-go

The company plugs in new online jukebox technology that will enable subscribers to easily transfer music files onto portable devices, including Apple's iPod for Windows.

MusicMatch on Wednesday plugged in new online jukebox technology that will enable subscribers to easily transfer music files onto portable devices, including Apple Computer's iPod for Windows operating systems.

The San Diego, Calif.-based company introduced MusicMatch version 7.5, free and paid software for listening to music via the Web. For subscribers, the technology lets music fans print stylish labels for CDs, which can be custom mixed and burned using the software.

Aimed at riding high on holiday sales of portable MP3 devices, the technology also lets consumers sync up a library of audio files with popular gadgets like the iPod--but only for people using the Windows operating system.

"This release is focused on the portability of MusicMatch with the device manager, so that people can easily transfer music to one or more portable devices," said Christopher Allen, vice president of marketing for MusicMatch.

The software release comes just weeks after MusicMatch said it would no longer support a Macintosh version of its product, citing a low number of Mac users. Still, the company has been working on features that cater to iPod users on Windows machines.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple started selling a Windows-compatible iPod in late August, using a specialized version of MusicMatch 7.1 for synchronizing between the music player and Windows PCs. But newer MusicMatch software such as version 7.2, which included added support for MP3 files, was not available to those who bought the iPod. Now MusicMatch is giving those consumers the ability to quickly sync music files with such devices and match up music for portable devices such as the Nomad Jukebox.

Additional features include advanced music tagging and labeling for digital audio files in the company's Radio MX subscription service. The new version also speeds up the time needed to create a custom CD and enhances the software's interface.

MusicMatch, founded in 1997, makes one of the most widely distributed digital music players, which is available in a free version or with special features for $19.95. According to the company, more than 100,000 customers pay $4.95 a month for its subscription Radio MX service, which offers unlimited access to music from major and independent labels. The free MusicMatch Jukebox is available for download online and is distributed on new PCs from Dell Computer, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard.

Interest has been growing in MusicMatch software, even as the company fends off increased pressure from competing products such as Apple's iTunes, Microsoft's Windows Media Player 9 Series and RealNetworks' RealOne. RealNetworks recently introduced enhanced CD-burning and labeling features for its subscription service.

MusicMatch plans to release a new version of the software next spring.