Barence writes "Microsoft has confirmed it is preparing to launch a music streaming service. The service will be a direct rival to Spotify, hugely popular in the UK (but unavailable in the US), which allows users to stream music for free in return for listening to around a minute's worth of advertisements every half hour. 'It will be a similar principle to Spotify but we are still examining how the business model will work,' said Peter Bale, executive producer of MSN." The article claims that the new service will boost the popularity of the Zune player, though how this is to happen is not explained. There doesn't seem to be a close tie-in between device and service, as there is between the iPod and the iTunes Store.