Print 17 comment(s) - last by sdsdv10.. on Nov 14 at 10:43 PM

Microsoft to add more substance to its Zune family

Microsoft's first generation Zune music player is launching today at a price of $249. The 30GB, WiFi enabled player will be made available in over 30,000 retail locations and is sure to be a hot item for Christmas wish lists. But just as the Zune is hitting store shelves, the boys over in Redmond are already working on updates to the player according to Engadget.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated that a firmware update will be made available for the Zune in the future that will enable wireless sharing of user-created video content. The Zune currently enables wireless music sharing on a 3x3 basis (three plays for three days with the option to purchase the tracks).

Ballmer also hinted that a Zune with integrated phone capabilities would also be released down the road. No other details were provided, but rest assured that Microsoft will be going head to head with the long-rumored iPhone.

Microsoft is going to need all the help it can get in competing with Apple's full range of iPod players. With 5.5G iPods, 2G Nanos and 2G Shuffles running around, Microsoft's sole 30GB entry isn't quite going to cut it. With Apple seeing a 75% marketshare in the United States, it’s the cheaper flash-based iPods that are taking up the bulk of iPod sales instead of the higher-priced hard drive-based models. It's only a matter of time before we'll see cheaper, flash-based Zunes hitting store shelves.

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These things are looking pretty interesting...
By dug777 on 11/14/2006 12:38:07 AM , Rating: 5
One can only hope the general populous can look beyond the 'It isn't an ipod, who cares' knee jerk reaction, otherwise it will sink into the annals of 'ipod competitors that never made it' history...

I'd like to see AT do a comprehensive review of one against its equivalent apple competitor :)

RE: These things are looking pretty interesting...
By tuteja1986 on 11/14/2006 12:51:08 AM , Rating: 2
Zune is much better than Ipod in hardware wise. Its little things that will hurt the zune , DRM on wifi transfer , not great Windows Media player 11 support and the Micro transaction points system to buy MP3. Too much of entrance barrier will ultimately kill the zune not the hardware capabilities.

By Brainonska511 on 11/14/2006 1:02:52 AM , Rating: 2
The wifi should be no DRM if the file didn't have any DRM restrictions on it, but the **AA would be up in arms if that was the case. 3/3 seems a little short, but the DRM is no more restrictive than Apple's FairPlay.

By Hydrofirex on 11/14/2006 1:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but is a hack really impossible - can they really flat out stop someone from coming up with some kind of crack, or work around, or firm ware hack?


By Magnus Dredd on 11/14/2006 1:25:46 AM , Rating: 3
Funny, I'd say that NOT having the ability to back up your music is more restrictive...

You should read the EULA for Windows Media Player 11:

Further, Fairplay does NOT support expiration dates or remote disabling. You either have a license, or not. This is why iTunes does not do, and will not do rentals, because Fairplay isn't capable of it.

Windows Media's DRM on the other hand DOES support expiration dates and remote disabling. This is why Microsoft has been pushing BOTH rental and "buy" options.

If you like rentals; Fairplay is not a good option for you. If you hate the idea of someone having a killswitch for your music available, or lack of music/license backup is unacceptable; then Windows Media, and Zune is not a good option for you.

By Magnus Dredd on 11/14/2006 1:27:39 AM , Rating: 2
BTW license information is kept in the following places:

Fairplay: In the music file.

Windows Media: Liceses are stored in a separate file.

RE: These things are looking pretty interesting...
By kelmon on 11/14/2006 5:55:37 AM , Rating: 1
To be honest, based on the demonstrations of the Zune I can't see it being "much" better than the current iPod but it certainly does have some advantages. Clearly the Wifi function could be killer for it if only it was used properly - wireless syncing would have been far more useful compared to sharing. As best as I can see, at the moment the Zune lags behind the iPod due to a general lack of "additional" features. At present my iPod acts like a mini PDA because it stores my calendars, contacts and events, plus it will play some reasonable games, etc. Now these features, I'm sure, can be added in a firmware update to the Zune but I'd suggest that Microsoft really needs to look into these areas in order to bring the Zune up-to-par with the iPod. Sharing is a great idea but the Zune will need a suitable market penetration before it'll come into its own and in the meantime it's going to be the other functions/features that the Zune users will use.

By MobileZone on 11/14/2006 7:50:30 AM , Rating: 1
So your ipod acts like a mini PDA? You mean, those Palm Pilots 1000 released back in 96?

Well, my PocketPC PDA acts like a:

-3.5G (UMTS) + WiFi 11g phone with video-conference support
-2.0 megapixel video and still camera with flash
-MP3 player (as good as your ipod)
-Video player (DivX, Windows Media, AVI and so on)
-Games (tons, tons and tons)
-Zillions of applications of all imaginable kinds
-Bluetooth built in for wireless headset or whatever
-VoIP (skype) support for free internet calls

And I can even pop in some GPS expansion to use it with a urban map application/locator.

What more? I might be missing something...

Forget Zune
By ahkey on 11/14/2006 12:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
It's only a matter of time before we'll see cheaper, flash-based Zunes hitting store shelves.

When are cheaper flash-based *Zens* going to show up? And I don't mean Vs, I mean like a Neeon, but.. good.

RE: Forget Zune
By Brainonska511 on 11/14/2006 1:04:59 AM , Rating: 2
Creative could have had some really great stuff, but their firmware always took forever to come out and fix bugs. I remember waiting a whole year for the ZenTouch firmware to come out that supported PlayForSure and fixed the equalizer (which is supposedly still broken). Also, the whole removing FM recording from the Zen Vision M and Zen Micro with the latest firmware upgrade for each of them, what a load of crap on their end.

RE: Forget Zune
By Omega215D on 11/14/2006 4:09:06 AM , Rating: 2
They seem to be a lot better than iRiver. When it comes to U.S. firmware it's usually more or less non existent. Thank god for Rockbox, but since iRiver won't service the broken backlight I am actually looking at the Zune or iAudio X5L.

Which is actually more expensive?
By HaZaRd2K6 on 11/14/2006 9:06:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:’s the cheaper flash-based iPods that are taking up the bulk of iPod sales instead of the higher-priced hard drive-based models. ...

If you ask me, the flash-based models are actually more expensive. In Canada, an 8GB iPod Nano (flash-based) will run you $299, whereas a 30GB iPod 5.5G will run you $299, as well. That works out to $37.38/GB for the Nano and $9.97 for the 5.5G. Sure, the 80GB iPod is still more expensive, but gigabyte for gigabyte, the flash-based iPods are still more expensive.

RE: Which is actually more expensive?
By sdsdv10 on 11/14/06, Rating: 0
RE: Which is actually more expensive?
By Rollomite on 11/14/2006 12:46:35 PM , Rating: 1
I believe that some etiquette classes are in order for you, sdsdv10. He has a valid point, as do you. But your sharp-tongued response does nothing but prove your need to feel superior. State the facts, save the insults and flames for those who deserve them. Your opinions will be better recv'd by all.


By sdsdv10 on 11/14/2006 10:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
Oh ye fickle DT readers, down modded again. Oh well, such is my lot in life.

Rollo, you maybe right concerning my sharp-tongued response, but I have to disagree that the OP had a valid point. I will quote his original premise.

If you ask me, the flash-based models are actually more expensive.

This is simply not true, nor is it supported by the facts. Yes, the most expensive flash player has price parity (that's parity, meaning the same number not higher) with the base hard drive model. However, this completely disregards the fact that 75% (3 of 4) of the flash based iPods have an overall lower (as in less than) price than the 30GB HD iPod. So then I would ask you, please explain to me how or why the OP had a valid point. Now if you want to argue about $/GB, well then what's the point. It has been common knowledge that flash is more expensive than HD storage even since flash hit the market. So then I ask you, what constructive information did the OP add to the discussion? More importantly, a $/GB comparison was never the intent of the author, but rather the retail cost of the units.

Finally, I'm sorry if I offended you. But after the better part of a dozen years on the internet (started surfing back in 1994 while in school) I have grown weary of the constant nonsense posted all over the place that a couple quick Google searches would show to be utter BS. I understand you could say, "Well sdsdv10, then just pass on the WWW.", but there is still far to much useful information that can not be found any other way. Again, my apologies to you (no sarcasm intended).

Microsoft, why?
By UserDoesNotExist on 11/14/2006 8:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft....

Don't do the MP3 Player/Phone. Seriously. The whole "Swiss Army Knife" approach to non-computer personal electronics is failing. That's part of the success of the iPod. It only plays music, and it does it well. Similiarly with the Razr and the Nintendo DS. Don't get me wrong, I would *love* to have a black box in my pocket that could browse the Internet, play MP3s, make phone calls, and do my taxes. But the devices that try to achieve "convergence" usually just end up doing all of them poorly.

Update your firmware to allow wireless syncing and wireless access to Zune Marketplace (although I don't know how you'd navigate the later.) You'd have a sure-fire winner on your hands.

RE: Microsoft, why?
By Lazarus Dark on 11/14/2006 1:13:57 PM , Rating: 2
I would prefer my phone/texter to be a seperate device to keep it small as possible for best portability. keep the media player seperate. actually, considering any pmp that has all the features I require runs $500+, Id rather spring the extra 500 for a umpc for media portability plus full usability as a winxp machine.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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