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9/9/2008
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Microsoft Zune Offers Direct-From-FM Downloads

The Buy From FM service will allow users to purchase and download songs they hear on the radio through a wireless Internet connection.

Microsoft is planning a software update for its Zune digital music player that will allow users of the device to download and save songs directly from FM radio sources. The company also plans to add 16GB and 120GB Zune models to the current lineup this fall.

Through a new feature called Buy From FM, Zune users will be able to tag and purchase songs they hear on FM radio stations, Microsoft said Thursday. The songs can then be downloaded through a wireless Internet connection while they are playing, or marked for later download when the device is connected to the Web through a home computer.

The software update is slated for release on Sept. 16, Microsoft said.

Buy From FM uses Radio Data System and RT+ data feeds embedded within the broadcast to identify song tracks and make them available for purchase. Microsoft claims that 61% of listeners discover new music through the radio.

The service is drawing support from the radio industry, which is facing competition from online music sources. "Microsoft's decision to integrate an FM tuner into the Zune was revolutionary and they continue their extraordinary leadership with Buy From FM," said Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan, in a statement. Clear Channel operates more than 1,200 radio stations in the U.S.

The software update also adds a number of new features to the Zune Marketplace—Microsoft's online music store. It helps the service "learn" the style of music that the user most prefers in order to create customized lists of purchase suggestions.

Additionally, the update adds two new free games to the Zune-- Hexic and Texas Hold 'Em—and enables support for audio books.

Microsoft also said it's planning to introduce a version of the Zune with 120GB of memory, and a version with 16GB, priced at $249.99 and $199.99, respectively.

Microsoft shares were up 1.19% to $26.43 in mid-morning trading Tuesday.

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