Under the new rules 'any' download counts towards the chart. Be it a current or old single, a b-side, or an albumn track. This will mean the return of a lot of older tracks which have previously fallen out of the charts as the old rules stopped including downloads after two weeks of the actual physical single being deleted from stores.
For instance this weeks chart has seen the return of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" (in at #9 but previously reached #6 last July), Gnarls Barkley's massive summer hit "Crazy" (back in at #30), Nelly Furtado's "Maneater" (#1 last June) and outside of the Top 40 the effects are even more astounding with Gary Jule's 2003 Christmas #1 making a re-entry at #58 with his version of "Mad World".
Apparently EMI are thinking of releasing the Beatles back catalogue for download for the first time with industry experts expecting the Top 10 Singles to be entirely Beatles tracks once this happens under the new rules!
Wham's "Last Christmas" - along with many other festive tracks - would have been back in the Charts throughout December too.
So yes, I'm glad that the music industry is taking note of digital downloads but I'm not convinced it'll help with the diversity of the charts nor for the discovery of new talent.
Top 40 Changes Help Snow Patrol (BBC News Online; Monday 8th January 2007)
Chart Revamp Puts Downloads First (BBC News oNline; Friday 29th December 2006)