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NEW YORK (Kyodo) Microsoft does not currently have plans to release its new Zune digital music player in Japan, Darren Huston, president and chief executive officer of Microsoft Co., the Japan unit of Microsoft Corp., told Kyodo News on Thursday.

Huston’s comments came after he spoke at New York’s Japan Society on Microsoft’s plans to deal with the challenges that face the information technology market in Japan.

Microsoft announced Thursday that Zune would hit U.S. stores on Nov. 14, just before the start of the holiday season, and retail for $249.99.

Japan is Microsoft’s second-largest market and is extremely advanced in terms of using IT in daily life, Huston said, citing the use of ultra-high-speed fiber-optic Internet services in homes, Internet access on cell phones and the abundance of flat-screen TVs.

However, Japanese businesses are about three to five years behind companies in North America and Europe in terms of IT usage, due to a variety of factors, including dependence on so-called Legacy IT systems, many of which were put in place 15 years ago, Huston said.

Microsoft Japan launched the interactive People Ready Business campaign in Japan last week, touting its business services to help companies overhaul their IT systems, he said.

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