Microsoft is set to support the latest attempt to prize away control of the digital music market from iTunes, MTV's Urge.

Urge, launching in beta form this week, will be heavily marketed across MTV's broadcasting assets, MTV, VH1 and CMT, which together have an audience of 165 million music fans.

The service has attracted major support from Microsoft, which will integrate the service into the latest version of its Windows Media software. Urge uses Windows Media DRM (digital rights management).

The next version of Windows Media Player will also be released around the time of the Urge launch.

The service will offer two million tracks on launch, which cost $0.99 (about £0.50) each, or from $9.95 (£5.25) for an album. A subscription version of the service will also be available.

In future, the service will also offer access to MTV's vast archive of music-related programming.

Speaking in December, Michael Gartenberg, vice-president of Jupiter Research, expressed some fear that the Microsoft/MTV plan may fail. "The biggest paradox is that the people who are most likely to be interested in an MTV-branded music experience are also probably the demographic that has the highest interest in the iPod," he said.

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