Microsoft's Zune to be Released Before Holidays

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft announced Thursday that its new portable media player, Zune, is expected to be released for the 2006 holiday season. The device, which rivals the market-dominant Apple iPod, is aiming to gain popularity by including features that the iPod lacks.

Microsoft's vision for its new product is to provide "music service and a foundation for an online community that will enable music fans to discover new music." (Source:

The 30GB media player will have the capability, through built-in WiFi (wireless network access), to share songs with other Zune users -- a key characteristic that distinguishes it from the iPod. It will also offer users a subscription to unlimited music downloads for a flat fee.

The device also comes with preloaded music from DTS, EMI Music's Astralwerks and Virgin, Ninja Tune, Playloudrecordings, Quango Music Group, Sub Pop records, and V2/Artemis Records. (Source:

Zune will also offer three accessory packs. The Zune Car Pack includes an FM tuner and a car charger. The Zune Home Pack consists of various devices that enable Zune to be integrated with a television and with music speakers. Finally, the Zune Travel Pack offers products for traveling with a Zune player, including an AC adapter and a dual connect remote. (Source:

The exact release date and pricing information have not yet been disclosed. However, the company is clearly planning for the long road ahead; Matt Jubelirer, a Zune product manager, commented that "video and movies are part of the long-term road map." (Source:

At this point, it may be too early to predict the product's success, but it will surely be interesting to see what kind of impact Zune will make on the digital media industry.

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