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Zune Buyer's Guide | Step 3: Features and Specifications - Zune Marketplace

Zune Marketplace

Zune graphic

Zune Marketplace is Microsoft's music service. Marketplace is accessed through Zune software installed on your PC.

Marketplace lets users purchase songs from its catalogue in two ways: one-by-one, or through a subscription.

  • A Zune Pass subscription gives consumers access to millions of songs for $14.99 per month.
  • Individual songs can be purchased using Microsoft Points for 79 points per track.

Which is best for you? Read on.

Individual song purchase. You can buy one song at a time, using Microsoft Points. Each song costs 79 Microsoft Points, which is about equal to $0.99.

And what are Microsoft Points? It's Microsoft's stored value system. You can purchase Points online from the Marketplace itself (using your credit card). Or you can pick up gift cards at participating retail locations and use the number on that card to buy your Points.

Purchasing Points is like putting money into a special account that you can use on Marketplace. You can redeem Microsoft Points at Zune Marketplace, Xbox Live Marketplace, or at other participating online stores.

Points allow for "micro-transactions", which means that Microsoft can more efficiently handle payments for small-value items without having to undergo the expense of credit card merchant fees for every transaction.

Microsoft currently uses the Points system for Xbox, where Xbox gamers can use Points to purchase premium game content.

In the future, Microsoft wants to enable Xbox Live users to buy and sell user-created content, which could prove to be the heart of the "micro-transaction" system. It makes sense that Microsoft also sees Points being used for user-created content for Zune - i.e. user-created music, audio files, and video content.

Zune Pass. A Zune Pass (subscription) gives you access to all songs available through Zune Marketplace, for a monthly cost of $14.99 per month. As long as you maintain your subscription, you can download and play unlimited music through Marketplace and on your Zune.

The table below gives you a summary of features and pricing available on Zune Marketplace.

Zune Marketplace Features and Pricing

Feature Zune Marketplace
(click to enlarge)
Zune graphic
Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions Downloaded songs are protected and are playable only on Zune players
Audio formats WMA
Video content available? No (not at launch but expected later)
Games available? No (not at launch but expected later)
PC / Mac PC only
Price for individual songs 79 Microsoft Points
Price for All-You-Can-Eat subscription $14.99 / month

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