"Microsoft plans to one day merge the online services for its Xbox 360 gaming console and Zune MP3 players into one giant gaming and music portal that can be connected to by all of its major products, according to J Allard, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft. “Today we have Xbox Live for $50 a year,” said the executive. “We have Zune Pass at $15 a month. We don’t have a rationalised premium version yet. Fast forward a little bit, and you can imagine a menu like DirecTV. There is basic, there is enhanced, there is movie pack and NFL Sunday ticket,” Mr Allard told the New York Times. “What I want to do at the Entertainment and Devices division is to build an entertainment service that can connect, that has a screen and buttons and a speaker, so you can watch what you want where you want, how you want.” This follows revelations that the Xbox Live Video Marketplace will launch in Europe in December, catching up with customers that are already using it in the US."
This isn't rocket science, but it's the first time I've seen Microsoft publicly clarify (slightly) what their vision is for a merged service. They've always been coy about answering the question, but we all knew it was only a matter of time - unfortunately I think most of us watching this happen had hoped it would have happened by now. At any rate, it's gratifying that they have the same vision many of us two: one service, one pile of content, multiple ways to consume/view it. With Xbox Live Marketplace videos coming to Canada and Europe before the end of the year, and the rumoured Zune release in Canada Q1 2008, all the pieces are starting to come together.