Microsoft has finally decided to launch the Zune brand outside the US and a wide range of products will be available in 18 territories outside the US as from tomorrow in a bid by the company to break the quasi monopoly of Apple on portable entertainment market.
Zune, as a portable music player, has been available in the US only since 2006 but has never managed to break the stranglehold of Apple on the portable music sector.
But tomorrow's launch will see the movie service on the Xbox live (aka Video Marketplace) rebranded as the Zune rather than a full on, products-and-services blitz. Xbox users will be able to stream movies instantly on their Xbox 360 console - which also confirms the console's ambitions to be at the centre of the users' media world.
What's more, depending on the user's broadband connection, they should be possible to stream even full HD (1080p) content without waiting, something that is possibly a first in the UK at least.
A significant Xbox 360 update is set to be rolled out tomorrow which will include Twitter and Facebook support for the platform.
It is quite disappointing that Microsoft has chosen not to launch the full range of Zune products including the Zune HD player which is set to take on the iPod family in the UK and the Zune pass which provides unlimited access to music for as little as £10 a month.
For unknown reasons Microsoft has already said that the Zune HD won't be available in the UK in 2009.
The Zune HD is so good that Apple has decided to reduce the price of its iPod range recently. Microsoft has done an awful job with the Zune. We've already highlighted five possible directions that Microsoft needs to take to make the Zune a potential iPod (and iPhone) challenger.