Well isn’t that nice. Right on schedule Microsoft has launched Zune Music for Australia. While this may sound like just another music store, a major key to the Zune puzzle is Zune Music Pass, which allows unlimited music downloads for $10 a month.
There is a 1 month subscription for $11.99, 12 month subscription for $119.99 and a 14 day free trial available which all give unlimited access to the millions of songs in the Zune Music catalog. Music from the Zune Music Pass can be played on your PC, web browser, Windows Phone 7 device and soon Xbox 360. Also, if you somehow live in Australia and have a Zune HD you should also be able to use it. It’s a Microsoft-only affair for now but if they want to compete in the streaming music game they might want to offer iOS and Android access as well as a Mac version of Zune.
Also available from Zune Music are songs, music videos and albums which, unlike songs from Zune Pass, are yours to keep forever. These come in a number of price ranges, but in my experience songs are overpriced and albums can be quite cheap compared to iTunes, Bandit.fm and Bigpond Music. You also have to use Microsoft Points, which is a little annoying, but it’s still nice to be able to buy music as well as subscribe for it.
Zune is one of Australia’s few music subscription services that the US has had for years and Zune Pass will soon be followed by competitors Australia launch, Rdio and Spotify, in the coming months. And as I said when Zune Pass was announced for Australia, this is a major way that Microsoft can now compete with the Apple ecosystem as up until now users could only get music from their computers which they had already downloaded or ripped. Now there is the convenience of downloading songs on the go and this could be a competitive feature if Microsoft advertises it.