Microsoft on Monday announced the long-expected news that it would be expanding its Zune online services internationally prior to the launch of Windows Phone 7. Today, Microsoft's Zune Marketplace and Zune Pass are available for only the company's Zune portable devices and the PC, via the Zune PC software, and only in the United States. But with Windows Phone launching internationally, Microsoft is expanding these services internationally this fall.
(Microsoft previously announced that it would bring the Zune-based music services to the Xbox 360 video game console in November.)
"The integration between Zune, Windows Phone 7, and Xbox LIVE is an exciting expansion in our entertainment offerings," said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Craig Eisler. "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."
Microsoft says that the next update to the Zune PC software—version 4.7—will enable Windows Phone sync and will be made available for free in 20 countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. With this software, consumers can access Microsoft's Zune Marketplace, which offers music, TV shows, Zune HD and Windows Phone apps, and other content, as well as the Zune Pass, a monthly music subscription service. Previously, these Zune online offerings were available only to customers in the United States.
Access to each of the offerings won't be universal, however. The Zune Pass service will be made available in France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and cost 9.99 euros per month, or 8.99 pounds in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Zune Pass costs $15 per month. It provides subscribers with unlimited download and streaming access to the music content on Zune Marketplace; additionally, subscribers can download and keep 10 MP3-based songs of their choosing each month.
Zune music and music video purchases are being expanded to the same countries as is Zune Pass. Microsoft will be making Zune Marketplace-based video purchases—TV shows and movies—available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. And movie rentals will be made available to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
All this content will work on Windows PCs, Zune devices, Windows Phones, and the Xbox 360. Music sold via the Zune Marketplace is in DRM-free MP3 format and will play on a wide variety of devices.