updated 10:30 pm EDT, Mon September 20, 2010
Microsoft expands Zune store to Europe, Canada
Microsoft tonight expanded its Zune Marketplace services beyond the US for the first time in the run-up to Windows Phone 7. Its unlimited Zune Pass music, MP3 downloads, video sales and movie rentals will be available in France, Germany and the UK later this fall. Spain will get all but video sales, while Australia, Canada and New Zealand will get both of the video services but no music.
Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands and Switzerland will be limited to movie rentals. Dedicated MP3 players like the Zune HD won't be crossing overseas, however.
Every country will get a new version 4.7 update to the Zune desktop app for Windows to sync WP7 devices. Mac users have already been promised basic sync through a third-party app.
The move to other countries is a first in the roughly four-year history of Zune services and is potentially crucial both to spreading the adoption of the Zune label and for Microsoft's reboot of its smartphone offerings. WP7 is the only other major smartphone platform besides Apple's iPhone to have a significant, closely associated media store as well as apps. Microsoft has swung much of its attention to the home after years of focusing almost exclusively on workers at the expense of market share.
Zune by itself has had very little presence outside of the US outside of the brief option of Zune players in Canada. The factor is widely credited for giving Apple dominance of the portable music market worldwide.