Microsoft has teamed up with music streaming radio service Last.fm for a new online portal to its "three million up and coming unsigned artists."
Pocket-lint was invited to a demo of the HTML5-powered site at the tech giant's offices in London and we have to say that we were mightily impressed. The UI is a green and hilly virtual land (Teletubbies-esque but with more edge) where the you can zoom in and out and easily travel between different hills representing artists, genres and the like.
Once a radio station is chosen the control options appear on a bar along the bottom, along with a handy mixtape maker. This playlist option is also saved when you close the browser.
When running on IE9 and using a Windows 7 machine it is possible to turn the webpage and browser into an app-like experience, complete with themed browser buttons and extra commands when the site is pinned to the taskbar. It's also possible to control playback in the preview pane by just hovering over the icon.
"What we want is to see more and more websites using as much of HTML5 as possible and one of the reasons for that is we want websites to be more like apps in the way they feel," explained Ian Moulster, Microsoft product manager.
"It kind of goes with the philosophy with what IE9 is trying to do - it's trying to make the browser disappear and the website shine."
Moulster stressed though that, even though Microsoft worked in tandem with Last.fm for the platform, the HTML5 site isn't exclusive to Internet Explorer. It does add to the experience if you use the Redmond company's browser though.
"Other browsers that support HTML5 - it will work and will work perfectly fine but it won't be quite as slick and smooth as it is with Windows and IE9," he said.
"What we don't want to do is lock other browsers out. We want it to be standard HTML5... but we do want to make sure that when you run it with IE9 on a Windows system you're getting the absolute best and making the most of the extra integration and features."
The HTML5-tastic Last.fm site is available now at Last.fm/discover. Happy scrobbling.
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