Microsoft confirms 'Zune' device
Just over a month after word of a Microsoft "iPod killer" first leaked out, the company has finally
confirmed it is indeed developing
a "music and entertainment" player by the name of Zune.
"Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software
products, the first of which will be available this year," said Chris
Stephenson, general manager of market for entertainment and services at
Microsoft, in a statement. "We see a great opportunity to bring
together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and
discover music together."
The Zune family will kick off with an online music service and a digital
media player, Stephenson told
in another interview. Like the iPod, the Zune player will
be outfitted with a hard drive, but it will also feature built-in Wi-Fi
connectivity. Stephenson says Microsoft is currently examining scenarios
for the wireless capability, such as letting Zune users buy music online
and store content in an "online digital locker." Compatibility with a
variety of devices, including Windows Media Center PCs, Windows Mobile
phones, and Xbox 360 game consoles, is also on the menu.
As the icing on the cake, Microsoft plans to allow Zune users to share
playlists and sample music off each others' players. According to Virgin
Records Executive VP Jeff Kempler, however, this music sharing
capability will require "evolving licensing schemes that have some
flexibility in them," and a balance will have to be struck between "the
benefits of discovery and remuneration of paid content acquisition."