Spotify is inching ever closer to launching its on-demand music streaming service as a browser-based Web player to either complement or replace its existing desktop app.

A closed beta for the service has been up and running for some time, but Spotify has confirmed today that the beta version is now available to a much larger pool of people in the UK.

“We’re letting a number of users in the UK test out a beta version of our basic web player, which we’re gearing up to release later this year,” a spokesperson for the company told TNW.

To access the Web player, simply head on over to play.spotify.com and enter your account details. The experience should be instantly familiar to Spotify enthusiasts, given that it’s using an almost identical layout for new, recommended albums and trending playlists.

Spotifycrop 730x402 Spotify opens its beta browser based app to users in the UK ahead of full launch later this year

The actual player controls have been moved over onto the right-hand side though, where Spotify’s social features usually reside in the desktop iteration. It still has the basic controls for stopping and skipping tracks, although the album artwork has also been moved to here from it’s usual location in the bottom left-hand corner.

It’s a bit bare-bones for now, but by and large the Web player works very well. The most notable absence is the service’s many apps, which currently include the likes of Soundrop, We Are Hunted and Last.fm on the desktop version.

Last month, Spotify began rolling out its new ‘Follow’ tab for users on the desktop, offering basic profile details and recommendations from a link on the left-hand pane. Facebook integration still persists on the right-hand column, but it’s clear that Spotify is now trying to distance itself from the social network giant.

That same day, the company also updated its iOS app with improved navigation controls, including a new sidebar for access to Search, Radio and Playlists and a new ‘Now Playing’ Bar to see upcoming tracks in your play queue.

As Spotify’s various competitors including Rdio, Rhapsody, Xbox Music and Music Unlimited continue to expand, it’s crucial for the music streaming service to keep ahead of the pack and adopt new users.

Being on the browser – something that Rdio has championed for sometime – is a significant move that will open the platform up to a variety of new users. Linux and Chromebook owners, for example, will benefit from having a fully supported service available directly on the Web.

The confirmation of a full release later this year shows that Spotify is moving quickly to make its claim as the leading on-demand music streaming service. The rest of the industry would be wise to watch its progress closely.