Zune ’3 screen’ goes international

Microsoft is taking its Zune service international to offer a “three-screen” music and movie service, across its games console, PCs and mobile phones. Consumers will be able to buy and rent movies, download tracks as MP3s or access an “unlimited” music streaming service, all under Microsoft’s Zune entertainment brand.

Microsoft believes its Windows Phone 7 operating system for smartphones will be a more successful multimedia platform than Zune, which failed to catch the market in the wake of the iPod. Microsoft is joining Apple and Sony in introducing ‘3 screen’ propositions, Apple TV and Qriocity respectively. Like Sony, Microsoft is using its Xbox 360 console as a way to break into the living room, which analysts see as crucial for the growth of digital media.

“We are connecting consumers to a world of entertainment experiences,” said Chris Lewis, vice-president in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business. “People want to use Xbox in a much broader way than we originally set out to achieve.”

Zune Pass, which is already available in the US for $14.99 a month, will be available in the UK, France, Italy and Spain for E9.99 before the end of the year. About 8m tracks can be streamed to Xbox, Windows PCs and Windows Phone 7 devices, which go on sale in October. Zune-purchased films can be loaded on to mobile phones via a PC connection.

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