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Songbird is one of the best free and open-source music players available, and it's just launched a new version that incorporates 7digital's US and UK MP3 download store, exactly like iTunes integrates the iTunes Store. There's no need for a Web browser, and it offers DRM-free songs from all four major labels, and direct transfer to MP3 players.

Songbird is built on a runtime package from Mozilla -- the guys behind Firefox -- and offers an interface very, very similar to that of iTunes. It's fully extendable with plugins that, among other things, offer features such as iTunes Cover Flow imitations, scrobbling, search and display of lyrics and iPod syncing.

And now it's got its own music store. It uses 7digital's API, which launched last September, along with its own, to produce a dynamic in-line music store within the Songbird application. You can browse, search for and download new music as well as music from your 7digital locker. Songs download directly to the Songbird library ready for playback or transfer to iPods and other MP3 players.

Used it, loved it, would buy a t-shirt

We tested the service and downloaded a bunch of tracks. The 7digital storefront is much more lightweight than the main 7digital store, and doesn't offer the same music discover service the iTunes Store offers.

But browsing and downloading is fast, and the overall experience is -- dare we say it -- as good as that of iTunes, at least in terms of getting music, downloading it and transferring it to devices without messing with the music files themselves.

The new version is live now for users in the UK, US, Ireland, Germany and other parts of Europe, and is a free download. Let us know what you think below, and check out another screenshot over the page.

Want to know more about free and open-source downloads?

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The main music interface. All of the songs on display were downloaded directly from 7digital through Songbird, including the album art. We're not sure why The Prodigy is classed as blues, though.
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