Microsoft has rolled out its iTunes-esque Zune movie and music service in the UK - although not the iPod-esque hardware device that accompanied its launch in the US. Instead, it's relying on the new Windows phones to provide the mobile hardware.
The service, which already has a partial foothold on your Xbox 360 thanks to the movie downloads on Zune Marketplace, is Microsoft's take on Apple's iTunes. You can download and buy MP3 tracks, or stream the entire Zune archive for a monthly subs fee of £8.99, and rent movies to watch on PC or soon-to-be-released Windows Phone 7.
The press release has the details: "When the service launches, consumers in the UK will be able to purchase MP3s from Zune Marketplace and listen to them on their Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 or any other device that supports MP3 format. Users will also be able to purchase music videos to enjoy on Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune on Xbox LIVE.
Zune Pass, the monthly music subscription service, will also be available for £8.99 providing unlimited download and streaming access to the Zune music catalogue and will be accessible on Windows-based PCs, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE."
"In addition to Zune video on Xbox LIVE, consumers will also be able to rent movies for viewing on their Windows-based PC or choose to synch the rental to their Windows Phone 7. Consumers in the UK will also have the option to purchase download-to-own movies and music videos to watch anywhere - on the big screen with Xbox LIVE, their Windows PC or synch it to Windows Phone 7 to enjoy on the go."
"As Zune expands internationally, its music and video service will be tailored for each market. Local experts will programme Zune Marketplace and feature the top songs, videos and unique promotions for each country."
The release also confirms that "the Zune PC software has been upgraded with new features and functionality and will serve as the Windows Phone 7 synchronization client." This means if you want to get one of the new Windows phones with Xbox Live integration and Gamerscore-equipped games, then you'll need to use the new Zune software to sync it.
All part of the great connected future - but it won't get really interesting until Windows Phone 7 arrives. Barring any hitherto-unseen problems with the software, there's every chance it'll be the must-have phone for Xbox owners, and if you can rent movies on it so much the better.
Pretty pathetic, just another money making scheme to be honest :|