RealNetworks already offers Rhapsody, the digital music subscription service, but on Monday they announced the launch of a free web-based service. Rhapsody.com lets people use the service without having to first download the desktop Jukebox. That means that it is available to Mac and Linux users.
The move comes as part of a shift in business for the company after they reached a settlement in an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. RealNetworks claimed that Microsoft was hurting sales of the RealNetworks player by bundling their media player with Windows. The settlement included $460 million in cash and $301 million worth of promotion for Rhapsody on MSN.
Starting next week Rhapsody will be available within Windows Media Player 10. Eventually it will also be integrated into MSN Search, MSN Messenger and MSN Music. In a separate deal, Rhapsody has already been integrated into Rollingstone.com, meaning there will be links on the site to artists, songs and albums on Rhapsody.
Update: The service is only available to US residents, they check your ip address so you cannot register otherwise. The “free” means only 25 free songs, then you have to pay for another service.