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Microsoft exec says Zune software coming to the Mac

In an effort not to discourage Mac users from adopting one of its new Windows Phone 7 handsets, Microsoft will reportedly deploy later this a year the first version of its Zune media software targeted at Apple users.

The revelation was briefly made public in a Twitter post from Microsoft UK’s head of Windows Phone marketing, Oded Ran, before it was quickly deleted, presumably because the executive jumped the gun.

"ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm glad to confirm that Mac users would be able to use Zune on their Macs to sync with #WP7," said the tweet. "More details soon."

Similar to the relationship between Apple's iTunes and the iPhone, Microsoft's Zune software will be the only method Windows Phone 7 users have to sync media, photos, music, and videos to and from their PC.

It was previously presumed that the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant would offer offer Mac users a small application to handle syncing only of their phones, but the latest revelation suggests a more feature-rich offering is in the cards, possibly to rival iTunes.

The nine Windows Phone 7 handsets introduced by Microsoft this week are the first to offer the Zune music experience on a phone, allowing users to play their music collection, synced wirelessly from their PC, or stream or download new tunes from the Windows Marketplace.

Many industry-watchers believe the new Windows Phone 7 platform represents Microsoft's last chance to make inroads in the modern mobile space, which is quickly falling into the hands of rivals Apple, Google and Research in Motion.

The first Windows Phone 7 handsets will be available in parts of Europe and Asia on October 21st before making their way to the U.S. market on November 8. Any formal announcement of Zune software for Mac would likely need to precede those launches, meaning more news should become available within the next week.

For Microsoft, its Zune franchise faces an uphill climb. Although the first Zune media players made their debut back in November of 2006, recent data from NPD has the players occupying a paltry 2% share of the global market. By comparison, Apple's iPod maintains well over a 70% share and is the leading digital music player in every major market within which it participates.