Zune Pass lets users keep some of their downloads

Microsoft announced today that its subscription music service for the Zune will now allow users to download 10 tracks per month to keep forever.

A Zune Pass subscription costs $14.99 a month, and like other services, offers unlimited music downloading for the duration of the subscription. Now, users can download 10 DRM-free tracks a month to keep irrespective of their subscription status.

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Subscribers can authorize up to three PCs and three Zune devices to play back "temporary" downloads, but the 10 free monthly tracks can reportedly be burned to disc or moved among MP3 devices at will.

In addition today, Microsoft said that Zune Marketplace now has Sony BMG and Universal Music Group distributing their music DRM-free, bringing all of the "big four" labels into the MP3 fold. Microsoft says that soon over 90 percent of the music in the Marketplace will be in MP3 format.

With this week's announcement of a price reduction on all Flash-based Zune 3.0 models, and now the promise of "free" MP3s for Zune Pass subscribers, Microsoft has put together a package appropriate for what is expected to be a conservative gifting season.

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