Microsoft officially unveiled its MSN Music Service at its "Digital Entertainment Anywhere" press event today (Oct. 12) in Los Angeles, and announced an exclusive content deal with AC/DC.

Microsoft officially unveiled its MSN Music Service at its "Digital Entertainment Anywhere" press event today (Oct. 12) in Los Angeles, and announced an exclusive content deal with AC/DC. Microsoft chairman/chief software architect Bill Gates demonstrated the service and announced a host of new consumer technologies from the company.

MSN Music, which had a "beta" launch early last month, will be expanding its offering to eight more European markets: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. These additions bring MSN Music's reach to a total of 17 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Australia.

Rock band AC/DC will make its catalog available exclusively through MSN in the United States. MSN now claims a catalog of 600,000 tracks -- an increase of 100,000 tracks since the beta launch.

"MSN Music's vast catalog, the familiarity of MSN and Windows and the service's broad compatibility with over 70 devices will open the door to online music for millions of people worldwide," said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP for MSN.

The service debuted new editorial features such as "Hot Cities by Decade," an interactive mapping of top bands from popular cities during various years, and an "Encyclopedia of Music," with comprehensive information on artists, including data from the Billboard Top 100. Additionally, the service will provide streaming videos and downloadable ringtones from Zingy.

Gates underscored the importance of MSN Music as a key component to Microsoft's digital entertainment strategy, which allows consumers to access music, photos, television and videos at home or via portable devices.

MSN Music tracks can be transferred to more than 70 Windows Media-compatible MP3 players and other devices. However, tracks are not compatible with the Apple iPod.

"With respect to digital music, everyone's at a different place with different needs," says Christine Andrews, product manager for MSN Entertainment. "We're trying to create an ecosystem and give choice to the consumer. They can go out and choose the devices they want at the price points they want that fits their needs."

MSN also announced a partnership with Creative that allows buyers of its digital audio players and sound cards to install MSN Music and provide a desktop shortcut to the service.

More than 94% of the world's PCs use Microsoft's operating system. The MSN franchise claims more than 350 million unique visitors globally each month. The MSN Web portal attracts 350 million unique users per month worldwide.