Following its earlier announcement to launch - right in time for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 launch - Zune across Europe, Microsoft today announced plans to integrate MSN Music into Zune. There is a natural synergy between MSN Music and Zune and MSN Music will create links in its music editorial to related content on Zune.net, giving users quick and easy access to the music they care about in the Zune Marketplace. On Zune.net users will be able to browse the Zune Marketplace and purchase music from a 100 % MP3 catalogue or use a Zune Pass music subscription to stream music directly through their Internet (available in certain European countries like the UK only).
The Zune Marketplace will include millions of tracks from all the major labels as well as thousands of independent labels. Tracks purchased from the Zune Marketplace are all DRM-free MP3s. UK's Zune Pass will provide unlimited download and streaming access to the Zune music catalogue for £8.99 per month and users will be able to listen and stream to their Zune Pass music using the Zune software on their PC, on Windows Phone 7, Xbox 360, or in any browser via zune.net for as long as they hold their subscription.
As soon as the full-featured Zune service is launched in the UK - most likely anytime next month - it will replace the current download store as the music consumption experience for MSN Music.
Microsoft has yet not unveiled any further details what it plans with its MSN Music services in other European countries where Zune will be also launched soon but it's most likely that Microsoft will merge it into Zune as well.
UPDATE: Microsoft Germany has just confirmed via Twitter, that MSN Music will be merged into Zune in Germany as well.
Cheers ~ Arne