Microsoft has confirmed that it will be launching its Zune music player in the US before Christmas, however failed to give a specific date or price.

Microsoft is hoping that its new player, called Zune, will appeal to music fans keen to find an alternative to Apple's iPod.

“The digital music entertainment revolution is just beginning,” said J Allard, vice president, design and development, at Microsoft, who is leading the charge for building the family of Zune products. “With Zune, we are not simply delivering a portable device, we are introducing a new platform that helps bring artists closer to their audiences and helps people find new music and develop new social connections.”

The first model will come with a 30GB hard drive and connect to the Zune Marketplace music service, which is similar to Apple's iTunes Store and allows users to download music directly to the new player.

The Zune device features wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a bright, 3-inch screen that allows users to not only show off music, pictures and video.

Zune comes in three colours: black, brown and white.

Microsoft has also said that the player will be able to connect wirelessly to other Zunes to let users share content. In particaular users will be able to listen to the full track of any song you receive up to three times over three days.

Zune Marketplace will work in a similar way to Napster allowing users to get a Zune Pass subscription to download as many songs as you want for a flat fee.

The company also said that they would be offering a series of accessories to go with the new player.

However no word on yet as to when the player will be coming to the UK.