Napster will always hold fond memories for me because back in the day, it was the first application I used for P2P file sharing. After a much publicised legal battle, now Napster has put itself on the right side of the law with a subscription based service for millions of Mp3s.
Since its inception, the look of Napster has been improved several times and it now offers an elegant interface through which you can search and purchase music from 99 cents per song or $9.
95 per album. If you're a big music fan however, you'll find it much more economical to subscribe to Napster's premium service for $9. 95 per month, which offers unlimited downloading, 40 commercial-free interactive radio stations and a collection of community features.
These include options to e-mail tracks to friends and share play lists with other Napster users. In fact, this remarkable value for money is probably Napster's major advantage over competitors such as iTunes Music Store which work out considerably more expensive.
The other positive aspects of Napster are that you can preview songs before you buy them, many users say there are tons more songs than on iTunes, there's a community radio station and even an inbox for e-mail.
Of course, the downside is that if you're one of the world's millions of iPod users, you won't be able to transfer Napster tracks to it because the files are in in WMA format.
In fact, you won't be able to transfer them to any portable music player unless they can play Windows Media Player 9 DRM protected files. In addition, the number of times you can copy the files is also limited.
On the plus side, the bit-rate is a healthy 192 Kbs and burning CDs on Napster is really easy, involving just a few button clicks and some simple steps to configure your preferences and there are no limits on how many times you can burn a file.
Overall, Napster has come a long way since its early days in the late 1990s and is a worthy competitor to iTunes. However, if only there was less DRM on their files, it would score much more highly.