Zune 80
Zune Pass monthly subscription service now available

Microsoft announced a new update for its Zune portable media player today that adds new software features and new content to the Zune online store. Microsoft hasn’t exactly been burning up the sales charts with its line of music players, but it hopes that steady software update will give the Zune a strong platform to work with.

The Zune video store is getting a boost with new downloads for TV shows like “South Park”, “Afro Samurai”, “Witchblade”, “The Office”, “The Hills”, “Heroes”, “Battlestar Galactica” and many more. In all, the updated store offers over 800 episodes that will each sell for 160 Microsoft Points per episode or about $1.99 at launch.

Microsoft says with the new update that its Zune Store now has more than 3.5 million tracks with two-thirds of them in MP3 format. The Zune Store still has a way to go to beat iTunes which is the largest music retailer around. Zune users have had access to a free customizable Zune Card in the past that is a sort of snapshot of their favorite tracks and other music played on their Zune.

The update makes the Zune Card more portable and allows subscribers with a Zune Pass to take a friend’s Zune Card and listen to what their friends and family like the most.

Chris Stephenson, general manager of Global Marketing for Zune at Microsoft said in a statement, “Consumers want more than the traditional transactional model of an online music store plus portable device. Zune is putting the strong combination of an online music community together with subscription to deliver a new experience centered on music discovery that’s good for consumers, artists and the industry. This approach exposes consumers to music they might not have otherwise tried, keeps them coming back, and gives them purchasing options that suit their preferences.”

Key updates to the Zune Community include the syncing of Zune Cards to a device, enhanced friends search, instant friends, album and artists reviews, reputation badges, and Windows Live connections. Key updates to the Zune device include auto playlists, browsing videos, editing album and track information, organizing collections, gapless playback, syncing groups, and Zune reminders.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch
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