Sony has announced that is has made five strategic partnerships with leading music download services across Europe following its move earlier in the year to ditch ATRAC.

The partners will include HMV here in the UK, FNAC Music IN France, Musicload in Germany, Terra Pixbox in Spain and Planet Music in the Netherlands

The move will also see Walkman MP3 player, not phone users being offered 3 months' free trial for "unlimited" music subscription, via free album downloads and free new tracks every week.

However Sony has said not all will get the new benefits with the level of the offer dependent on the country of residence and the purchase of a qualifying WALKMAN.

“These exclusive partnerships confirm Sony’s commitment to supporting an open standard with Windows Media Technology”, said Jeffry van Ede, Vice President Sony Audio Marketing Europe.

The announcement follows a change in strategy following customer feedback for Sony to support an open platform and include Windows Media Technology on its MP3 players, something that before August 2007 wasn't possible.

These latest WALKMAN ranges support the open formats of non-secure Windows Media Audio (WMA), AAC and MP3; as well as the leading secure format of WMA Digital Rights Management 10.

In addition the NWZ-A810 and NWZ-S610 Series WALKMAN players support the AVC (H.264/AVC) Baseline and MPEG-4 video codecs.