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Microsoft to launch international Zune video and music service

Microsoft has announced a radical international expansion of its Zune digital entertainment service. Zune is to deliver video and music services in a number of new international markets from the autumn.

Microsoft is also developing an integrated cross-device service that will offer the free Zune software, the Zune Marketplace online store, the Zune Pass music subscription service and new Zune.net features to Windows-based PCs, Windows Phone 7-enabled mobile devices and via XBox Live.

“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.”

Version 4.7 of the Zune software will be available to download for free in over 20 countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

The updated software will enable, amongst other things, streaming of HD movies via Windows PCs.

As well music, Zune Marketplace offers a range of film and video titles from studios including Paramount and Warner Bros for purchase or rental. As well as via XBox Live (where a film streaming service is already availably in about 15 countries in Europe), video titles will now be available via PCs and mobiles.

The Zune music subscription service will be available in the UK, France Italy, Spain and Germany, while videos for purchase will be available in the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and a movie rental services will be available in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with the ability to synch streams to Windows 7 devices.

The latest launch marks a new stage in Microsoft’s attempt to compete with Apple and other providers in the online video and music market.