Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Napster UK

Napster has launched its UK site today, somewhat ahead of schedule – the original date was “late summer”. Its catalogue boasts 500 000 songs with another 200 000 on the way, making it as large, or larger, than iTMS, which still hasn’t launched in the UK yet.
There’s a 7-day free trial of the service, too, although you still have to enter billing details and if you do not cancel your membership within that time you will be charged £10 for a month’s membership, which lets you download unlimited tracks without paying extra. However, you do have to pay extra (£1.09) to be able to burn them to CD or transfer them to a portable device. Alternatively, there’s a non-subscription service where all files cost £1.09, which permits CD burning. Pricewise, this makes it more expensive than OD2 based services, like which I reviewed last week, however it looks like Napster has more songs available.
The other big difference between this and MyCokeMusic (et al) is that Napster requires you to install the Napster application, which is a 11MB download. This is too big in my opinion. I’m guessing most of the size comes from its CD burning facility, and seeing as Napster is owned by Roxio I imagine this won’t be an optional feature, even though it’d be nice if it could be made optional so that those of us without CD burners wouldn’t need to download it.
How the store actually works I can’t tell you. I tried to enter my billing information, but I was told that I needed to enter my “18 digit card number”. I was using Switch, which, like every other credit card, uses 16 digits, which it wouldn’t accept. So, I couldn’t register. On the plus side, at least Napster attempts to accept Switch, Solo and Amex – MyCokeMusic only takes Visa and Mastercard. Which is stupid because many students, like me, don’t have credit cards (because we’re told they’re evil and will only get us into more debt), and we’re exactly the market that the music industry wants to target with these systems. But then, when did the music industry ever have a clue?
I also can’t tell you whether the files play outside of the Napster application. I sincerely hope they do, and seeing as Windows Media Player is a requirement I’ll assume this is the case.


  1. I like the sound of the new Napster but as I’m running Windows 98 here I can’t use it. 🙁 🙁

  2. Good point, I forgot it was Windows 2000/XP only. Which begs the question – why?
    iTunes is also a 2000/XP-only app, so when (if?) iTMS launches in Europe that won’t be any help. And naturally that’s another market that the legal download services can’t serve. The idiots.

  3. Napster goes live in UK, iTunes still pending

    Roxio Inc. announced on Thursday that its Napster online music download service has gone live in the UK, well ahead of a promise the company made in March to launch the service before the end of summer. Apple, meanwhile, continues to make plans for a E…

  4. Isn’t WinXP over something like 60% of the user base now? I guess they think people on older OSs are less likely to have broadband or something. And iTunes also seems to be somewhat resource intensive, so that might have something to do with it. Not to mention the shocking security and stability of those old Windows versions. If your trying to sell machines based on a new OS, you don’t want to give the impression that your software crashes that often.
    iTunes also has over 700,000 songs already, and you can burn all of them, so it remains on top there. But they still haven’t launched in the UK. The idiots.

  5. I think part of the reason why iTunes is 2000/XP only is because it relies on services for its CD writing and iPod synchronisation functions, which don’t exist in 98. Of course, it’s possible that Apple could have written the program another way that would have enabled it to work.
    Your point about broadband is valid, I suppose those people who buy broadband are also more likely to spend money on their computers and therefore have machines that are capable of running XP. According to last months global stats, 49% use Windows XP and 17% use Windows 2000, but 25% still use Windows 98. While that’s probably not an accurate portrayal of what OSes are in use it’s better than nothing.

  6. I registered with napster well before it was launched as i use mp3 for my discos.
    But iv’e never been able to get any tracks and i do have the software installed in my pc.(eg) When you try to enter which country i live in which is the uk!! The uk is not there neither is england or united kingdom. They has been no update for the software to correct this even after the launch early june.Oh and just to set the record straight (i do have a licence to use mp3 for my discos in the uk i do not and will not use illegal downloaded tracks.