First launched as music player in 2006, Zune will now feature an online music and video store and a subscription service, Zune Pass. Priced at £8.99 per month it will give unlimited download and streaming access to the Zune music catalogue in MP3 format.
Music deals are in place with the likes of Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music and Warner Music Group for the content, as well as other independent labels.
Enhanced features to the digital music player include Smart DJ, which automatically creates playlists from your music collection with suggested music form the Zune Marketplace.
Zune will also expand its recent success with video streaming on the gaming platform Xbox Live, by offering film rental and allowing customers to watch high definition movies via a Windows PC or through syncing with a Windows 7 mobile phone. Consumers in the UK will also have the option to purchase download-to-own movies.
“The integration between Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE is an exciting advance in our entertainment offering,” said Craig Eisler, corporate vice president, interactive entertainment business group at Microsoft.
The Zune software is available to download for free in 20 countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
The announcement follows the launch of Apple’s iTunes extension Ping earlier this month, which has met with a mixed response.