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Microsoft moots 2008 for Euro Zune debut

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Microsoft's Zune music player and online content store combo is "way off launch" in Europe and the UK, the company has admitted. The "earliest date" it might appear here? The end of 2007, or possibly even 2008, a Microsoft executive has revealed.

"The earliest date it will be in the UK is towards the end of 2007. However, it could easily be 2008," Microsoft media and entertainment alliance manager Dene Schonknecht said, according to UK trade paper New Media Age.

Zune launches in the US on 17 November, priced at $249. Microsoft always indicated the player's overseas debut would be further off, but it's fair to say most observers anticipated a launch next year, sooner rather than later.

Schonknecht's comments, however, suggest Microsoft is willing to cede the market to Apple's iPod for at least two Christmas sales periods. That may not be a bad move. Zune's USP is its Wi-Fi enabled social networking, which not only has to prove itself viable but is inherently a more US-centric feature. Microsoft may well want this kind of thing to become a little more embedded in European youth culture before releasing a product that capitalises upon it.

"They will be working on rolling out the Zune in the UK and Europe with its compatible Zune Market place,” said Schonknecht. “We haven’t yet selected a music store provider to build marketplace in the UK, which means we’re way off launch.” ®

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