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DRM-free tunes coming to the Zune too?

Microsoft plans to follow Apple in selling unprotected songs from EMI, though the company won’t say just when such tracks will appear on the Zune Marketplace store.

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs issued his open letter calling for an end to DRM, Microsoft said the total abolition of such protections would be irresponsible, since they are needed for subscription music and other new business models. However, the software maker has now said it does plan to offer DRM-free music from EMI and others.

Zune marketing director, Jason Reindorp, said: “We’ve been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content.” Reindorp added he did not have a time frame for when unprotected songs will be added to the store.

EMI announced plans on Monday to start selling unprotected songs, at a premium, through online retailers, with iTunes being the first to offer such tracks.

Reindorp said the move could help Microsoft’s effort, loosening the tight bonds between the iTunes Store and the iPod. “This does open things up a little bit,” he said. “It potentially makes the competition more on a device-to-device or service-to-service basis. It will force the various services to really innovate.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, is set to kick off a second wave of advertising for the Zune, which has grabbed the number two spot among hard drive-based music players but has seen its share slip slightly in recent weeks. The company had an 8.8 per cent retail share of the hard drive-based market in February, according to NPD, down from 9.9 per cent a month earlier.

Reindorp said the first ads were mostly about establishing the brand, while the new advertising, which includes a TV spot, focuses on features that make the Zune stand out from the iPod, such as its support for subscription music, larger screen and built-in FM tuner.

The software maker is also expanding its palette of hues for the Zune. A baby pink Zune shade is set to debut early next month, while a watermelon red version is slated for summer.

Reindorp said: “People are responding so well to the colours. We’re having a lot of fun playing and experimenting with them.

Source:→ hardware.silicon.com

Microsoft, Zune, DRM, Free, DRM-Free, Digital, Music, Digital Music, Apple, Steve Jobs, iPod

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