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Microsoft planning central network for Zune and Xbox

The Zune and Xbox product brands are ultimately meant to connect to the same network, says Microsoft's J Allard

The Zune and Xbox product brands are ultimately meant to connect to the same network, says Microsoft's J Allard.

In a New York Times technology blog, the Microsoft exec talked about the company's online vision.

"The Zune guys have to run really fast. The Windows Mobile guys are on a two-year release cycle. The Xbox team now needs to focus on cost reduction, distribution and quality process. Everyone is on their own cadence. The one thing that transcends all this is the network as the nexus," he said.

Allard noted that the online services for Xbox, Zune and future products will merge.

"Today we have Xbox live for USD 50 a year. We have Zune Pass at USD 15 a month. We don't have a rationalized premium version yet.

"Fast forward a little bit, and you can image a menu like DirecTV. There is basic, there is enhanced, there is movie pack and NFL Sunday ticket."

Video will definitely be a key part of Microsoft's service.

"What I want to do at E&D [the entertainment and devices division] is 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," Allard said.

In his vision, content providers will rely upon Microsoft to handle the technical details and marketing of selling their products, bringing that content to multiple platforms.

"We go in as a platform company and say to ESPN that we can offer preference information so you can curate programs in a way that has never been done before.

"And you donât have to worry about multiple formats; we do it all for you on the back end. And you can reach all these eyeballs without lifting a finger."