Music downloads accessible in Canadian Zune Marketplace; release imminent?

If you haven’t read my previous article about a somewhat random occurrence of the Canadian music Marketplace you probably should as this aticle will make much more sense.

So as you now know, traces of the Canadian music Marketplace have shown up a few times quite late at night. This time though, I was able to pull a digital “stakeout” and dig a bit deeper into the availability. As I had previously posted, purchases and individual artist pages were unavailable and would throw an error message back to me, yielding nothing usable or interesting. Last night at 11:24 pm I tried a search for The Bird and the Bee and to my surprise, it showed up with a picture and the artist’s albums available on the Marketplace.

Buying a song... in Canada

Before the network went back down I clicked on a song that I wanted to purchase and viola! It worked! No error message telling me that those services “are not available in my region.” The song downloaded without error and I have officially purchased my first song through the Zune Marketplace.

This is great news but a few things are still missing though: the ability to properly go from an artist in your collection to their respective page in the Marketplace still results in an error message about the artist being “no longer available at Zune Marketplace.” Also, the pretty view of featured artists, top 10, and also general browsing experience seems to be somewhere between lacking and non-existent. Another aesthetic feature that is missing is the artist pictures and bio, which make the music user experience on the Windows Phone and Zune HD exponentially more enjoyable.

This purchase may sound silly to those in the United States but for us Canadians it’s pretty huge. The CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission) has strict policies that has – apparently until now – kept Microsoft at bay. I have actually been in contact with a lovely lady at the CRTC who has curtly informed me that the rules and restrictions are in place to “protect Canadian identity.”

Regardless, it seems as if Microsoft has finally gone through the proper channels, cut through the red tape and decided to start competing in a country other than the United States. The fact that a purchase was actually made means that Zune music Marketplace is undoubtedly coming to Canada. Exact timelines are still unknown, but it is coming.

The addition of a Canadian music Marketplace will make the Windows Phone a much easier sell. The ability to purchase all your music through Zune will nearly complete the Microsoft ecosystem which will mesh (pardon the pun) well with Windows Phone, Zune HD, Xbox, and eventually Windows 8.

Syncing across all three platforms, it brings the user closer to the “three screens and a cloud” philosophy which Microsoft has been striving towards for a while now.

To my fellow Canadians: congratulations! To Zune-ers abroad in countries that are still lacking the Marketplace (as Canadians still technically are), I hope this signals an upcoming influx of effort on Microsoft’s part to really fulfill their promise of expansion of services in other regions around the world.