The Microsoft Zune digital music player will not be available in Europe until the Christmas season, its marketing director has said.

Jason Reindorp, Zune marketing director, told Reuters that Microsoft was not ready to announce an official launch date at this stage. However, he is reported to have said the media player could be available in Europe 'in time for the holiday season of this year.'

Reindorp said the company would be spending this year looking into how the Microsoft Zune could be modified to a European market.

He added that Microsoft was realistic about the challenge of taking on the Apple iPod in the digital music player market.

"You couldn't get a more entrenched competitor," he said at the annual Midem music industry conference in France. "But we feel really good about the first steps that we've taken."

But a spokesperson for Microsoft UK said today that they have no information about availability in Europe for the Zune. The company would not say whether it would be available in time for Christmas.

According to figures out last week, the Microsoft Zune now has 10.2 per cent of the US market for 30GB hard disk-based digital music players. The Zune has been on sale in the US since November last year, and Microsoft predicts that it will sell one million Zunes by the end of June this year.