One of the UK's biggest music retailers, HMV on Wednesday announced it was developing an online store to be ready for February next year which would be based on Microsoft's Windows Media format.

From the BBC:

Record store HMV has teamed up with Microsoft to launch its own digital music downloading service. HMV will plough around £10m into setting up the service, which it hopes to roll out by February next year.

The two firms are developing software and hardware that will allow customers to download music directly onto PCs.

HMV added the system will be compatible with Microsoft's Windows Media Audio, and therefore with 75 types of portable music players, but not Apple's iPod.

An HMV representative also stated that they plan to stop selling iPods when the service goes live.

Microsoft UK managing director Alistair Baker:

It's great to be involved in such a leading-edge retail project that will support an explosion of choice, enabling music fans to buy music in-store and online - in fact anywhere - on a whole range of devices from different manufacturers. The partnership extends to the development of the [software], which will be constructed by a joint team from Microsoft and HMV.

It's happening, the same mistakes that killed the Mac are killing the iPod. Apple wake up, you have to license your technology and open your technology to even stand a remote chance of winning this war.