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New Zunes, Euro debut due next Xmas?

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Microsoft has said it could launch its Zune wireless digital media player and online song store in Europe by the end of the year, potentially much earlier than the company previously indicated. New US models may debut in the same timeframe.

The software giant's marketing chief, Jason Reindorp, this weekend told the Reuters newsagency the company was happy with Zune's sales in the US - despite reports that the numbers haven't, in themselves, been fantastic. Looking ahead, he said: "The industry moves in this sort of Christmas to Christmas cycle. So you can expect that there will be more devices, more features in the market at that point.

"Our next round of introductions will probably be in time for the holiday of this year."

Reindorp indicated Zune's European debut might likewise come ahead of the coming Christmas break. The company is planning research to evaluate how keen European consumers might be on the device, which in addition to the usual iPod-like music and movie playback provides a limited song-sharing capability via an integrated Wi-Fi link.

When Zune was launched in the US in October 2006, Microsoft pointed to 2008 as the player's likely European arrival time.

Microsoft's man said the company feels "really good about the first steps that we've taken", the start of a three-year plan "to firmly and solidly get on the radar".

"We're not simply trying to play catch up with Apple," he added. ®

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