Microsoft to Launch Zune Services in Europe

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Microsoft has announced that it is to launch its Zune brand outside of the US, though sadly without the hardware that accompanies the services in North America.

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Microsoft’s own entry to the portable media player (PMP) market, originally simple called the Zune, proved to be a fairly solid piece of hardware, but never quite seemed to take off in the face of Apple’s iPod dominance. The more recent launch of the Zune HD hasn’t seen Microsoft’s marketshare increase substantially (in fact, it’s fallen to just two per cent), but the Zune HD is by a far a more impressive piece of hardware.

Now, word comes from The Financial Times that Microsoft is planning to launch its media based Zune services in Europe. Since a little before the launch of the Zune HD, Microsoft has been rebranding some of its media services, making the Zune name into something that is to be less and less associated with the Zune hardware itself and more and more more to do with Microsoft’s portable media strategy overall.

The big news now, and perhaps the most important for those of us who’ve been sitting on our hands and watching the whole Zune debacle unfold over time, is that Microsoft has now decided that it is to launch the Zune services (if not the device itself) in the UK, France, Germany and Australia, which means that we’ll actually be able to see what Microsoft’s Zune services are like.

Who knows, perhaps if its Zune services see enough uptake Microsoft might even consider releasing the hardware over here, though for now it’s keeping characteristically tight-lipped about the whole business. Indeed, it’s said that there are currently no plans for any further hardware in the Zune line.

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