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Napster opens doors to Mac owners

The company releases a Macintosh version of its wildly popular file-swapping software, officially welcoming Apple computer users to the free-music revolution.

Napster on Wednesday released a Macintosh version of its wildly popular file-swapping software, officially welcoming Apple computer users to the free-music revolution.

The release comes 15 months after the service first launched, squeaking in under the wire as a federal appeals court considers whether to shut Napster down.

Napster for the Mac, as the program is called, includes a few new features not available in the PC version. New toolbars are brightly colored to match the design of Apple's popular iMac models. In addition, the application allows people to keep track of their last 10 searches.

This is the first "official" version of the software for Mac users. Earlier this year, a group of programmers figured out a code that allowed the Macintosh to connect with Napster's service and dubbed it Macster. The music company then hired the team to develop a legitimate program for the Mac.

All the while, Napster has been fighting for its life in federal court.

The company is embroiled in a copyright dispute with the Recording Industry Association of America, which won a court order in July that could effectively shutter the service any day. That judgment is under appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Napster, founded in 1999, is one of the fastest-growing Net technologies. A recent study showed that Napster was used to download 1.39 billion songs in September, making it one of the Internet's most popular applications.