French newspaper Les Echos (subscription required) is reporting that Microsoft is bringing the Zune to Europe in 2009. The interview with French Microsoft executive François Ruault, also reveals a number of other details about the upcoming launch.
On the hardware side, Microsoft will launch a newer third generation models in time for the European debut. Unfortunately, there are no details on these upcoming devices. This makes sense as the current models will be quite dated in a year.
Microsoft is also planning to launch a Zune Marketplace to go along with the players. Offering both music and mobile games, it will be accessible not only to Zune players but also to Windows Mobile devices. It’s not clear though how the new functionality will be offered to PDAs and smartphones. Could it be an OS upgrade, a software download or something that only newer devices will support? Microsoft will use its recent purchase of Musiwave, a French provider of mobile music services, as the basis for its European offering.
As to why it will take so long to launch in Europe, Microsoft attributed the delays to careful planning to ensure that its launch will be successful.
Note: The ‘More information’ link will take you to an article in French. [Google translation]