As it confirms the "next generation" HD version of its Zune hardware, Microsoft will extend the portable media player's video service and catalog to Xbox Live internationally.
It calls Zune a "premium partner" in Xbox Live's Video Marketplace -- though there will be no audio integration with Xbox Live -- and promises to shed further light on how Zune integrates with Xbox Live next week at E3.
In an interview with the UK Guardian
, Microsoft's Chris Stephenson further alluded to the "the prioritization of an enhanced Zune video service to Xbox... It's about changing the way people think about entertainment."
The Zune HD media player itself incorporates a built-in HD radio receiver to allow for higher-quality sound than traditional radio, and users can access the stations' song and artist data broadcasts in HD. It'll feature an OLED touch screen interface and an HD-compatible output by which to connect it to multimedia interfaces or HDTV.
It is also Wi-Fi enabled, so that users can stream purchases from the Zune music store directly to the device, and it will also feature a full-screen internet browser. No information on game-related Zune HD applications has yet been revealed.
"We’re proud to be growing and extending our offering beyond the device," says Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV, Video and Music Business Group, citing Microsoft's "connected entertainment vision" and calling the move a "turning point" for the portable media player.