Report: Zune coming to Europe in 2009

Microsoft officials told a French financial newspaper this week that a third generation player is due next year, along with the launch of the player in the European market.

Since its debut in late 2006, Microsoft's response to the iPod has been a US-only product. While there have been repeated rumors that launches in other markets were in the works, so far there has been no official confirmation until now.

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That changed with the disclosure by Microsoft France executive Fran├žois Ruault in the French paper Les Echos that the company does indeed plan to release the player in the region in 2009. This will likely coincide with the release of the third-generation Zune.

Ruault's comments seem to suggest that the company also plans to move the reach of the Zune Marketplace beyond the desktop and music player and onto mobile devices.

Windows Mobile 7 will likely allow users to access their music libraries, possibly signaling the increasing likelihood of a Zune phone to complete with the iPhone. While it appears that such a device wouldn't initially be dedicated to only music, this could be a step toward the eventual release of such a device.

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