Microsoft is testing the Zune Music Marketplace for Australian users, and possibly others as well. Zune 4.8 users who have their system location set to Australia and/or an Australian Live ID will now see the Music tab in the software, according to istartedsomething.
While this is just a test, and the assortment of available songs is just a small subset of Zune's full library, it does reveal Microsoft's pricing for songs and albums in the country. Songs cost 129 Microsoft Points (AUD$2.13) and albums appear to be priced per song capped at 1299 Microsoft Points (AUD$21.43).
Zune Music is currently available in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the US. The rest of the world is out of luck, but as Microsoft continues to push forward with Windows Phone, which has Zune integrated into it, more international countries are likely to get the Zune treatment. We doubt that only Australia that will be updated in the apparent upcoming expansion.
There has been talk for quite a while now that Microsoft is getting ready to kill off the Zune. The company has been viciously denying speculation that it will clear out inventory of the stock it has, and stop producing more units of the various Zune models. While we haven't heard about any retail store running out of stock yet, the rumor suggesting that Microsoft will kill off the Zune hardware and focus instead on just the software, is one that just won't die.
Earlier this month, Microsoft killed its Zune Originals storefront, which has been available since November 2007. Last month, we learned that Microsoft would be porting at least some of its Zune HD apps to Windows Phone. Two months ago, the software giant slashed the prices for two (out of three) Zune HD models: the 16GB to $170 (from $200) and the 32GB to $200 (from $270).