Microsoft is launching its Zune media brand outside the US for the first time, a move to grab shares from the dominating Apple  iTunes after failure to compete with iPod.

The Zune will be available from this week on the Xbox 360 games console in 18 major markets including the US, the UK, France and Germany. The service may also be offered across mobiles and PCs as its three screens strategy, Microsoft said.

The strategy and vision of Zune is to continue to build out that full entertainment experience, Christine Heckart, general manager for TV, video and music marketing at Microsoft said. This is a very important step for us to introduce Zune to new consumers around the world.

The move was part of a broader race to the living room among digital entertainment providers, Financial Times citied Gartner analyst Mike McGuire as saying.

Microsoft said last week that it has sold 10 million Xboxes since its debut four years ago.

However, despite positive reviews of its latest Zune HD model, Microsoft will struggle to take on Apple, which dominants the market. Both Sony and Sandisk also sell more devices than Microsoft.