As we expected, MSN UK is killing off its short-lived MSN Music pay-for music replacement, in favour of Zune Marketplace, which is becoming Microsof’s de facto media service.
To give its users music downloads, MSN UK had, until mid-2009, relied on a white-label partnership with Nokia’s OD2. But, when Nokia (NYSE: NOK) shuttered the service, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) built its own stop-gap, offering 10 singles for £7.99.
The “beta” label had stayed on since then, and an unlimited streaming variant which was in closed beta never saw light of day publicly.
Microsoft still isn’t bringing its Zune media player hardware outside of North America, but it has already rebadged its Xbox Live Video Marketplace movies service “Zune Marketplace” here, and is making Zune available on its Windows Phone 7 phones around the world.
MSN UK “will create links in its music editorial to related content on Zune.net, giving users quick and easy access to the music they care about in the Zune Marketplace”, Microsoft says.
That means users can purchase individual tracks from Zune.net or buy a £8.99-a-month Zune Pass to access unlimited on-demand streams on Windows Phone 7, Xbox 360, Zune.net or in Zune’s desktop application.
Microsoft confirmed to paidContent:UK that this means the replacement of MSN Music’s stop-gap downloads service.
Update (Oct 14): Microsoft says the stop-gap MSN Music Downloads was always being powered by a nascent version of the Zune UK service, making it an 18-month-long Zune trial.
Customers of the old service were told on September 28 they would be migrated, though it’s not clear how many there were; those with account credit remaining will receive Microsoft points.
The change happens when Windows Phone 7 handsets are available in Europe from October 21. MSN’s site will focus on music-related editorial in much the same way it already was.