Microsoft Gets Its Zune On
Microsoft has released official information about their upcoming Zune brand of digitalentertainment devices and services, which has the unstated goal of toppling the Apple iPod/iTunes empire. The computer software giant stated the products are “designed around the principles of sharing, discovery and community”.
Zune 30GB Player:
The first Zune product out of the gate on Nov. 14, 2006 will be a 30GB portable media player, priced at $249.99, which can play and store up to 7,500 songs, 25,000 digital pictures or 100 hours of video. This device, which will be available in black, brown or white, includes built-in wireless technology so one can share full length sample tracks, playlists, pictures and personally recorded audio directly from Zune to Zune.
Sharing of any audio has a set limitation of only being enjoyed by the receiver up to three times in three days and may not work with all sample tracks.
Sample tracks shared in this way can also not be passed along to another Zune from the person who was the original recipient.
Music which is shared from Zune to Zune and found enjoyable by the recipient can be flagged for later online purchase from the Zune Marketplace, which is Microsoft’s answer to the Apple iTunes Store. The Zune Marketplace will offer “a huge selection of music” which can be bought and synced with the Zune player. This marketplace works with Microsoft Points – a prepaid online currency Microsoft uses currently through Xbox Live Marketplace – so one can purchase music without needing to input a credit card.
Also, Zune Marketplace users will have the choice of individual music download purchases fo
r 79 Microsoft Points per song or a subscription based model for $14.99 per month, which is similar to the current PlaysForSure type online music services used by a variety of Microsoft allied MP3 player manufacturers such as Creative and iriver.
More Zune Player Features:
Besides the wireless sharing and Zune Marketplace, other features talked about by Microsoft in t
oday’s announcement include being able to customize one of the three base body colors by combining each “with a distinctive double-shot finish created by the overlay of one color on another” as well as using personal pictures or themes on screen; a 3-inch LCD video screen which allows for viewing in portrait or landscape mode; on the go playlists support; digital photo slide show viewing with listening to music;a built-in FM tuner; and support through included Zune software for importing of existing music, pictures and video from iTunes and Windows Media Player in a variety of formats (audio files in unprotected WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in WMV, MPEG-4, H.264).
This import function can also work with existing playlists and song ratings, though this can vary depending upon the online service the music was purchased from, if any. The previously mentioned software also notifies the Zune owner when new software updates are available for download.