Microsoft announces international expansion of Zune, their music and video entertainment service

Posted on September 22, 2010

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Whoever discounts Microsoft in the mobile space will probably be wrong. kind of like those that thought Dewey won over Truman in the US presidential election of 1948.  The  New York Times declared, “Thomas E. Dewey’s Election as President is a Foregone Conclusion.”  Top pollsters predicted a Dewey win, as did leading national political writers.  In fact, with the exception of Truman, everyone else was certain Dewey would be elected.  Months before the election, Life ran a cover of a picture of Dewey with a caption that read, “The Next President of the United States.”  Headline after headline screamed Dewey as President- so much so that even  the Chicago Daily Tribune printed “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” as its post-election headline, issuing a few hundred copies before the returns showed conclusively that the winner was Harry S. Truman, the incumbent.

I make the analogy to simply point out that just because there are prettier options out there, it doesn’t mean that the people will buy into those options. Microsoft is big, and although maybe a bit on its heals in the last 2 years in mobile, they are very much a street fighting company. the announcement below has some real meat to dig your teeth into and remember, Phone 7 is out in a few weeks.

Microsoft Corp. announced on September 21st, the further international expansion of Zune, its digital entertainment service. This fall, Zune will expand its music and video footprint and bring the free Zune software, Zune Marketplace online store, Zune Pass1 music subscription service and enhanced features on Zune.net to new markets, providing a comprehensive entertainment experience on Windows-based PCs, on the go with Windows Phone 7 and in your living room through Xbox LIVE.2

“The integration between Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE is an exciting expansion in our entertainment offerings,” said Craig Eisler, corporate vice president, Interactive Entertainment Business Group at Microsoft. “Zune enables users to access the entertainment they want, wherever they want it – and now, more people than ever will be able to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that the Zune service offers.”

Zune software has been upgraded with new features and functionality and will serve as the Windows Phone 7 synchronization client. The new software (version 4.7) will be available to download for free in more than 20 countries, including the U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain, to easily manage your personal collection of movies, music, podcasts and pictures. Zune software continues to set the standard for entertainment software, providing best-in-class experiences to organize, discover and enjoy digital media with a variety of exclusive features. For example, the Quickplay menu enables immediate access to recently played content and personal favorites, and Smart DJ 3 automatically creates playlists from your personal music collection and takes the extra step of mixing in suggested music from the Zune Marketplace. The updated Zune software will also enable instant streaming of high-definition movies, allowing you to watch some Zune Marketplace movies in HD, with no download time, directly on a Windows PC.

Zune Marketplace online store is accessible from within the Zune software and offers the ability to purchase millions of individual songs or albums from its catalog, all in MP3 format. Here, consumers can also subscribe to Zune Pass,4 which provides unlimited downloads and music streaming capabilities from the Zune music library, including content from major music labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music and Warner Music Group, as well as thousands of independent labels. Zune Marketplace also has a large library of videos from major studios such as Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution for purchase or rental. Video purchases will be accessible through Xbox LIVE and Windows-based PCs, and can also be added to a Windows Phone 7. Simply buy your favorite video from Zune Marketplace and watch it on the screen of your choice.9

Zune.net is the perfect resource for consumers as it allows them to download the software and set up a Zune account with a new or existing Windows Live ID.5 Zune.net will also provide Web access to Zune Marketplace so you can purchase music or use a Zune Pass to stream music directly through an Internet browser,6 as well as purchase video content.7

1 Zune Pass available in U.K., France, Italy and Spain.

2 Zune Pass on Xbox 360 requires an Xbox LIVE Gold membership and a Zune Pass subscription.

3 Only available with Zune Pass.

4 Zune Pass is a music subscription; some Zune Marketplace songs and content are not available via Zune Pass. Available content may vary over time.

5 For cross-screen functionality, the same Windows Live ID needs to be used on the Zune software, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE accounts.

6 Internet browser support for Silverlight required.

7 Service features may vary based on market availability.

8 Keep 10 MP3s per month feature available to U.S. Zune Pass subscribers only, on their PC or Windows Phone 7.

9 Content available for download on multiple devices may vary over time. Availability of content and video resolution will vary by device.

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Posted in: Microsoft