updated 11:00 pm EST, Sun January 6, 2008
Disney-ABC Xbox and Zune
At its chief executive Bill Gates' final CES keynote, Microsoft tonight made a pair of significant expansions of its Xbox and Zune handhelds. The company's Xbox Video Marketplace has now signed on content from Disney-ABC as well as MGM. This places TV shows such as Desperate Housewives and Lost on the console for purchase despite Disney-ABC's connection to Apple through board member Steve Jobs; for MGM, it also provides movies for rent such as the Terminator series. The catalog update takes place later this month and will supply HD content for shows produced in a higher resolution.
The move comes as Apple is expected to release an iTunes movie rental service that would feature Disney as one of its essential providers on launch.
Additionally, the Zune media player will be available outside of the US for the first time, Microsoft says. Following hints in the manuals for the new Zune models, the company will bring the Zune 4 and 8 flash players as well as the hard disk drive-based Zune 80 to Canada along with the Zune Social environment for sharing music tastes. No information has been provided as to whether the Zune Marketplace will also be available or whether prices will change, though currency values point to a near-match for the $150, $200, and $250 prices for the respective three Zune models. The lineup ships to Canada in the spring and will be followed up by releases in other countries in the near future.