While the service has previously required users to install software on the client computer, now users will be able to listen to streaming music using browsers including Internet Explorer, Safari or Mozilla Firefox.
Mac users are included in this release as well as support for Linux and plans to add support for Windows Media Player 10.
The Rhapsody.com site is being overhauled so that users can listen to songs directly from the Rhapsody site – up to 25 a month free. Rhapsody will also act as a web-services platform that will allow third-party web sites to link directly to albums and songs on the service.
But there are limitations on the service. Users won’t be able to buy a song, transfer music or save a playlist unless they use Rhapsody’s standalone software program.
Dan Sheeran, RealNetworks’ senior vice president for music and video, said the company wanted to become an integral part of the fabric of the web. We want to put a little piece of Rhapsody throughout the web on thousands of web sites, he said.
About 1.3 million people pay RealNetworks for music, but the company doesn’t specify how many are Rhapsody subscribers and how many pay for other features, such as online radio. Its music subscribers have grown from 1.15 million at the end of June and 975,000 at the end of March.
RealNetworks’ new business relationship with Microsoft is giving Rhapsody more exposure on the web. In coming weeks, Rhapsody will be added to the list of music providers in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player program. The MSN division will also integrate Rhapsody into its search and messenger programs.