Microsoft launches new Zunes, DRM-free Marketplace

As expected, Microsoft has taken the wraps off a new generation of Zune portable media players. The devices include a hard drive-based model with an 80GB storage capacity and two flash-based models with 4GB and 8GB capacities. Prices are $149.99 for the 4GB Zune, $199.99 for the 8GB model, and $249.99 for the 80GB, hard drive-based Zune. All three models are scheduled to become available for purchase some time in November.

Physically, the new devices are smaller and sleeker than the original, and they’re all outfitted with a control system dubbed the Zune Pad. Essentially, the Zune Pad is a large, semi-rectangular touch-sensitive button. Users can scroll through songs by dragging their finger across the button, or they can press on the button’s four sides or its center to navigate while the player is in their pocket. The new devices all have Wi-Fi capability, too, and they feature new software that allows them to sync music over a wireless network—a feature absent from the original Zune.

Microsoft says current Zune owners will get an update that incorporates these new capabilities: "Ensuring that existing Zune owners benefit from the advances in this release, all Zune 30GB devices will be automatically updated with all the new features as well as the new device software design this fall."

The firm will make a few changes to its PC software and Zune Marketplace music store next month, as well. First and foremost, the Zune Marketplace will stock "more than 1 million" songs in MP3 format with no digital rights management protection. The Zune software will allow users to automatically import TV content recorded on Windows Media Center for Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate. In addition, Microsoft will launch Zune Social, an online community site where users will be able to share their music tastes.

Comments closed
    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    The MS page says
    q[

    • drsauced
    • 13 years ago

    Yahn. Oh what time is it? At the tone, DRM time will be, better late than never.

    Beep.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    Can I just copy files to a music folder and not have to use WMP/Zune software?

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 13 years ago

    Updating my Zune as soon as possible….
    so, what is up adi..? Looks how MS updates/upgrades while Apple downgrades and brick… ๐Ÿ˜€

    • ReAp3r-G
    • 13 years ago

    i’m deciding between this and creative products now…waiting for the review of this hardware before i could conclude properly

      • d0g_p00p
      • 13 years ago

      I have the new Zen (8GB) and it’s pretty awesome so far. I have 57 full CD’s on it and so far I am using a little less than 4GB of the storage.

    • Grigory
    • 13 years ago

    Call me crazy but I would have liked to see a brown model. Brown is a color so rarely used that it kind of refreshing in the first Zunes.

      • A_Pickle
      • 13 years ago

      I agree. They did well with brown.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    This is closer to what the Zune should’ve been from the start: a decent wifi-capable alternative to the iPod w/out the ripoff DRM cruft.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    These seem to be perfectly decent products at decent prices, but they are still “me too” products. If their goal is to take marketshare away from the iPod, that isn’t enough.

    The big opening that MS has right now is to deliver something like the iPod Touch, but that is more open to third party developers. That’s something that would really differentiate the Zune in an important way that people care about. Too bad MS didn’t do that. My guess is they have a year (at most) to exploit this opportunity.

      • willyolio
      • 13 years ago

      um, i guess you didn’t hear about the wifi syncing and music sharing capabilities? they crippled it the first round, but if they do it properly this time it certainly looks attractive.

      that’s pretty unique.

      but you say that’s too “me-too” and the best thing for MS to do “is to deliver something like the iPod Touch.” wow.

        • blastdoor
        • 13 years ago

        Um, are you seriously suggesting that squirting plus slowly syncing over wireless is more compelling than an iPod Touch that allows third party apps? If so, then I’m happy for you — you’ve got what you want. But to me those are both gimmicks. I’d rather sync using a fast wired connection and I have no interest in “the social”.

        I think most people would find an iPod Touch that supports 3rd party apps to be pretty compelling. If that’s what MS had come out with yesterday, Apple would be in BIG trouble. As it is, I really don’t think a couple of gimmicks are going to result in much marketshare gain for MS. I guess we can both check back in a year and see how things play out, though.

          • willyolio
          • 13 years ago

          the touch is just an ipod with an even shinier interface than before. nothing special there. apple doesn’t support 3rd party apps- did you hear about the iphone update?

          microsoft is trying something different. you try to say that copying apple looks silly, and then you tell microsoft to copy apple. genius!

            • blastdoor
            • 13 years ago

            Are you even bothering to read beyond the first sentence of my posts? My entire point was that Apple’s *failure* to provide support for 3rd party apps creates an opportunity for MS. I said that MS should come out with a product like the iPod Touch, but that ADDS support for 3rd party apps. That would potentially be huge — a much bigger deal than wireless sync + “the social”.

            I’m trying to make a serious point about a great opportunity for MS, and you’re playing some fanboy pissing contest. WTF is your problem?

            • tfp
            • 13 years ago

            Welcome to the internet. I hope you enjoy your stay…

            • blastdoor
            • 13 years ago

            Your point is well taken ๐Ÿ™‚

            • MadManOriginal
            • 13 years ago

            To be fair your previous post was somewhat vague and for someone who doesn’t know the details of each piece of new hardware it could be read as meaning that the new iPods do support 3rd party apps.

            • poulpy
            • 13 years ago

            IMO to be more fair it’s hard to get it wrong after reading both #11 and #17 unless you do it on purpose and/or are under the influence ๐Ÿ™‚

            • willyolio
            • 13 years ago

            in any case it won’t matter. it would still appear that microsoft is just copying apple.

            there’s enough apple fanatics out there to keep coding 3rd-party apps, regardless of whether or not they break with every update. wow, microsoft gives “official” support! nobody actually cares or notices. regardless of “officiality,” apps are still available, and microsoft is once again called a copycat.

            blastdoor’s solution to his problem is to add to the problem.

            the proper way to compete is to find or create a new niche and grow. that’s what microsoft is doing by trying creating “the social.”

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 13 years ago

            Yeah I’m on williyo’s side. Blastdoor is being an a-hat.

    • indeego
    • 13 years ago

    Because few know what AAC or WMA is nor do they careg{<.<}g

    • Gungir
    • 13 years ago

    The company that manufactures this is releasing a new, more feature-rich product that answers many of the complaints registered about the previous version, while making sure that those still using the older technology are not left in the dust.

    …Are we absolutely certain that Microsoft is the one producing these?

      • Corrado
      • 13 years ago

      Its actually probably still Toshiba ๐Ÿ˜›

        • Smurfer2
        • 13 years ago

        Thought I read on Dailytech that Microsoft built a facility to manufacture them. It was obvious Toshiba built the Zune as the Zune and Toshiba Gigabeat had the same case.

        Ah, here it is:
        ยง[<http://tinyurl.com/29zsnc<]ยง

      • willyolio
      • 13 years ago

      *[

        • Kharnellius
        • 13 years ago

        As is every technology company. Get off it already.

          • d2brothe
          • 13 years ago

          Microsoft is very good at backward compatibility…

          • willyolio
          • 13 years ago

          funny how i can still play fallout on a winXP-64 PC.

          oh right, it’s not because of backwards compatibility. it’s because Black Isle had the foresight to make a game in 1997 that’s compatible with an OS 5 years in the future.

            • Smurfer2
            • 13 years ago

            Uh, I think it is a little of both actually. If Microsoft was determined to “screw you over” they certainly are more than capable. I think Microsoft has a fairly good record on backward compatibility, but it is not perfect. (DX10 for example)

            • ssidbroadcast
            • 13 years ago

            l[

            • Mithent
            • 13 years ago

            DX10 isn’t a back-compatibility issue – it’s a new feature in Vista. Back-compatibility requires that Vista will run old programs, not that XP can run everything Vista can.

            XP 32-bit will actually run programs from Windows 1.0, with a few tweaks to the executables. There’s no window management as Windows 1.0 handled that independently of applications, and things don’t work flawlessly, but it’s pretty impressive. Unfortunately I can’t find where I found some tweaked Windows 1.0 and 2.0 applications some time back.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 13 years ago

            I can still play Fallout 1 and 2 on a Mac. What’s your point?

    • nagashi
    • 13 years ago

    Ah, mp3. The *real* “PlaysForSure” xD

    (unless you’re on certain linux distros and unable to change your repos I suppose)

      • king_kilr
      • 13 years ago

      Zune doesn’t support PlaysForSure ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Taddeusz
      • 13 years ago

      I don’t understand why they keep falling back on MP3 for DRM-free music. It’s not as if the format itself is actually free. They are required to pay roylties to Fraunhofer to sell products and media that use the format. So why not move to a higher quality format like AAC or even WMA? It would still be DRM-free and playable on any number of devices.

        • axeman
        • 13 years ago

        OGG works pretty well, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Afty
        • 13 years ago

        Literally *every* music player can play MP3s. That’s not true for any other format. The iPod can’t play WMAs, and most non-iPod devices can’t play AAC. Very few players can do ogg.

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