SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft has announced that its Zune digital entertainment service that competes with iTunes will expand internationally with the launch of its next-generation smartphone platform.
Content and services at the online Zune Marketplace will be accessible through personal computers, Xbox 360 videogame consoles, and Windows Phone 7 handsets, according to the US-based software colossus.
"The integration between Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE is an exciting expansion in our entertainment offerings," said Craig Eisler, a corporate vice president at the Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business Group.
"Now, more people than ever will be able to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that the Zune service offers."
Zune software has been upgraded with new features and synchronized to work with smartphones running on Windows Phone 7 software to be released in October along with a slew of devices running on the platform.
The update will let the new generation of Windows-powered smartphones mesh with the Zune Marketplace to compete with the synergistic pairing of Apple's iPhone handsets and its iTunes online shop.
Zune Marketplace boasts extensive collections of digital films and music that can be rented or purchased and then watched "on the screen of your choice."
The new software will be available by year's end in more than 20 countries including France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy, according to Microsoft.
Availability of video or music will vary depending on content distribution deals or restrictions in countries.