Microsoft pushes Zune expansion outside the US

Microsoft will expand its Zune movie and music services to Europe and beyond

Microsoft plans to offer elements of its Zune music and movie services throughout Europe and other countries this fall in conjunction with the release of its Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Windows Phone 7 is scheduled to launch before Christmas but no firm date has been set, said Scott Rowe, spokesman for Microsoft's Entertainment Services. The upgraded Zune 4.7 software will be the Windows Phone 7 synchronization client.

The Zune Music Marketplace -- where users can buy MP3s from a catalog of 8 million songs -- is in the U.S. now but will be expanded this fall to the U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Music videos will also be on sale that can be played on Windows PCs, Windows Phone 7 and Zune on Xbox Live.

Microsoft's Video Marketplace will enable people in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (where the service will expand in the spring) to buy movies to download and watch on either Xbox Live, a Windows PC or Windows Phone 7. A rental service will also be offered in those countries as well as Italy and Spain.

Another service -- Zune Pass -- lets users stream and download an unlimited number of songs. Downloaded songs have DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions that cause the songs to become unplayable if the subscription lapses.

Zune Pass will cost $US14 or $13 in countries that use the euro, Rowe said. Music can also be streamed through an Internet browser, as well as on Windows computers, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live, according to Microsoft. The service will be offered in the fall in the U.K, France, Italy and Spain.

"We recognize there is lots of competition out there," Rowe said. "What we offer here is the best of both worlds. It's a really large music and video catalog."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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Tags Internet-based applications and servicesgamesMusic and audioXboxMedia players / recordersonline servicesportable media playersinternetvideoconsumer electronicsGame platformsMicrosoft

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Jeremy Kirk

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