As regular readers of WPDownUnder will know, I have been a massive fan and advocate for the value and benefits of the Zune Music Pass. Having had a Zune Pass in 2010 for my ZuneHD, the combination of unlimited access to the full (ENORMOUS) music catalogue with an active subscription AND the SmartDJ suggested playlists proved to deliver new and old music alike to my device and listening pleasure. Finally, after a long wait, Microsoft last week announced that Zune Music Pass is coming to Australia on 16th November <insert cheers and clapping>. Read on for more details and exclusive info for WPDownUnder readers…
Here’s the Press Release from Microsoft, which was announced as part of an XBOX media event for Kinect Voice Command, which is also making it’s way Down Under:
“For Immediate Release 26th October, 2011
MICROSOFT UNVEILS XBOX 360 VOICE COMMAND TECHNOLOGY
THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Sydney, October 26 2011 -Microsoft Australia today unveiled the next phase in home entertainment with the announcement of voice command coming on Kinect for Xbox 360. Microsoft also announced Zune Music Pass launching across Xbox, Windows Phone and PC in Australia.
By mid-December, Australians will be able to use their voice to command their entertainment applications such as Zune Movies via Kinect on Xbox 360……
…….Microsoft also announced the launch of Zune Music Pass3in Australia on November 16. The ‘all-you-can eat’ subscription will give Australians access to more than 11 million tracks on their Windows Phone, PC and Xbox 360.
Subscribers will not only be able to stream tens of thousands of music videos through the Zune PC software and on Xbox 360 but be able to download onto their Windows Phones and PCs. Consumers can pay a monthly subscription fee of $11.99 per month or $119.90 per year to gain access to Zune’s entire music library.
“Music is such an integral part of entertainment and we are thrilled to be bringing Zune Music Pass to Australia, enabling people to explore more than 11 million tracks at home or on the go…………”
3Zune App download and installation may be required. Zune Music Pass requires a Windows LIVE ID and credit card to purchase the Zune subscription. Access to the internet is required to access content, ISP download charges may apply. Please contact your Internet Service Provider for the cost and restrictions of downloading content.”
<the media release is not online, but was sourced from email, excerpt above>
The main two differences to the US are 1) the Australian price ($11.99 p/month) versus the US still sees Australia paying around a 10% premium after GST (PLUS/MINUS exchange rate variances). 2) Further to the recent changes to new Zune Pass subscribers in the US, and in the same vein as the Canadian launch, Australia also misses out on the 10 free “keeper” tracks that US V1 Zune Pass owners still can enjoy each month (at a higher monthly cost).
In addition to the details above, Long Zheng has already confirmed recently that individual Song and Album purchases will be available to Australian customers via credit/$ payment or use of MS Points.
Following the announcement last week, WPDownUnder put some further specific questions to Microsoft on the forthcoming Zune Pass release here, and thanks to Microsoft and their PR representatives, I am pleased to be able to confirm their response here:
Zune Music Pass in Australia; additional details:
- Will full Artist Bio’s & Backgrounds on Windows Phone come with Zune Pass to Australia?The Bio’s are only available in the US. Artist imagery is in scope except for AU specific artists.
- Will Individual track/album purchases ex the Zune Music Marketplace (via MS points/credit) also be possible? Yes this will be enabled for Australia. (previously confirmed also by Long).
- Are we getting podcasts enabled with the Zune Music Pass also (not currently in Australian Zune Market)? Podcasts are enabled for the US only.
- Will the Zune Pass work with any Australians owning ZuneHD devices (me!) with an Australian-only Windows Live ID. Yes this scenario should work
- Will Australian ZuneHD owners also be able to access the free ZuneHD Apps/Games on their ZuneHD devices – as this is also blocked in the Australian Market? Australia does not have a ZuneHD app marketplace so users will not see this content.
SO, a bit of a mixed bag there…Disappointingly, no Podcast support yet. Strangely – it looks like artist background art will work for International artists – but not Australian acts (????). Pleasingly ZuneHD’s will be a supported device for Zune Pass, which also hopefully means that Music streaming will work with an Australian Zune Pass. However regional restrictions (even with the hardware being discontinued by MS) continue to lock Australian owners out of the FREE ZuneHD Apps/Games marketplace.
Pricing information, subscription sign-up instructions etc should be making their way onto Australian XBOX hubs and Windows Phone official sites here soon with the Nov. 16th kick-off now less than 2 weeks away! As more news come to light be sure to check back here for full coverage.
In coming weeks, I hope to score an interview with a local Microsoft representative on Zune Pass – so if you have any questions for me you would like asked, please add them in the comments section here….
PS – Here’s some YouTube videos that will help explain and demo Zune Pass (the advert is for the original US Zune Pass) for Windows Phone (second one is courtesy WPCentral).