So far, the Microsoft Zune hasn't exactly hit the headlines as being the world's best-selling music player. Rather the opposite. In its first few weeks on sale, it struggled to even make the top 100 of the best selling products on Amazon.com .

But today Microsoft claimed that the Zune sold well during December, and is on course to sell a million by the the beginning of July.

The Apple iPod unsurprisingly grabbed the top slot in hard drive-based digital music player sales over the holiday period, but Microsoft said the Zune was in second place.

According to Microsoft, the Zune accounted for 10.2 per cent of all hard drive-based MP3 player sales in December.

A Microsoft spokesman said: "We're happy to report that we achieved our goal of establishing Zune as the clear number two seller this holiday behind an entrenched competitor. No other single device has been able to achieve these kinds of results in a six week launch period, and we remain on track to exceed one million units in sales by June 30, 2007."

Over the next three years, Microsoft said it was "sure that it can improve the Zune's position in the digital music device industry".