Microsoft provides technology architecture for largest music collection in digital arena

London, UK – 1st September 2005 – Microsoft announced today further details of its close working partnership with HMV UK, the UK’s leading retailer of music and DVD – specifically the provision of the technology underpinning the new digital download and subscription service, HMV Digital, which will formally launch on 5th September.

Reflecting the HMV brand attributes of range authority, expert advice and value for money, the HMV online music management tool, or Jukebox, is built on Windows® Media Player 10. The Jukebox allows customers to download tracks in the Windows Media Audio 9 format from the HMV Digital store, create their own music playlists from their personal library or purchased music, transfer music to a networked or portable digital music player and create their own CDs. The Jukebox will also enable customers to transfer physical CD collections onto their digital music players.

HMV Digital will offer its customers a choice in how they wish to purchase their music online, made possible by the many business models enabled by Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) 10. They can either download tracks – individually or as albums – or they can gain full access to the entire catalogue of songs available via a monthly subscription to HMV Unlimited. Windows Media DRM 10 also enables consumers to take subscription music with them on the go using compliant portable devices.

Written using Visual C#® .NETTM 2003 and Visual Studio® 2005 Beta 2, the HMV Jukebox is a piece of downloadable software, which uses Windows Media Player controls. The entire server infrastructure runs on Windows Server System™, and is monitored by Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. The Windows System Server components include Windows Server™ 2003, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, SQL Server 2005 and Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004.

The system will be mirrored, meaning if one web server fails, customers will not experience service disruption. Microsoft’s Solutions Delivery Group – Microsoft consultants who specialise in the delivery of leading edge applications – provided consultancy and the software integration element of the project to HMV, and have been able to respond to HMV’s requirement for 24/7, 99.9% availability without impacting on the overall cost of the technology involved. The solution itself took some nine months to deliver and was undertaken in association with Gold Certified Partner, Conchango.

The software needed to use HMV Digital will be distributed as a free CD through the 200-strong network of HMV stores across the UK, as well as via the HMV website, www.hmv.co.uk, enabling customers to purchase music online from a trusted music brand. While the software solution is built in Microsoft’s Visual Studio .NET environment and utilises the Microsoft Windows Server System, the customer experience is based on the familiar Microsoft Windows Media Player 10.

Speaking for Microsoft, Alistair Baker, managing director, UK and vice president EMEA said: “This leading edge project is a great example of how our Smarter Retailing Initiative has enabled our customers to expand their offerings; in this case enabling music fans to buy music in-store and online – in fact anywhere. Consumers will be able to listen to the music they want to hear on a whole range of devices. The development of the HMV jukebox player combines the industry knowledge of the HMV team with the software development, product expertise and consulting skills of Microsoft. HMV Digital is all about freedom of choice and Microsoft is proud that its technology is at the heart of this service.”

Steve Knott, managing director of HMV UK & Ireland, said: “Our aim in launching HMV Digital is to offer the UK market the best digital music service based on range of music available, the underlying technical service and the customer support our staff will be trained to provide. We decided to work with Microsoft as we believe the scalability of the system will prove capable of growing with us, as the service evolves. We believe that our extensive range, as well as the expertise, knowledge and service provided by our staff, both in-store and online, will make HMV Digital a leading choice for digital downloading in the UK.”

For further information on the user experience and design of the website. Please contact Lorraine.branch@conchango.com or telephone 01784 222222

Published on: 12:00AM on 1st September 2005