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Cardboard display mockups of the 2G Zunes and flash Zune  (Source: Zune-Online)

2G Zune and flash Zune renderings  (Source: Gizmodo)
New Microsoft Zune models to launch tomorrow for holiday shopping

When Microsoft decided to enter the portable media player field with the original Zune, its goal was to dethrone Apple’s iPod as the media player of choice. That never happened; the Zune didn’t take off as Microsoft had hoped it would.

BetaNews is reporting that Microsoft will hold a press event tomorrow, with Bill Gates on hand, to launch the Zune 2.0. The first generation Zune was able to claim 10 percent of the hard drive based portable media player market, amounting to about 3 percent of the overall media player market.

One of the things that the new Zune 2.0 will offer is a thinner profile than the chunky first generation Zune players.  Microsoft is rolling out a new flash based Zune at the press event sized along the lines of the iPod nano at 3-inches by 1.25-inches.

These small flash-based Zune's are reported to be video and WiFi capable and will have higher storage capacities than competing products from Apple. One could gather from that last statement that the flash based Zune 2.0 would be available in 8GB and perhaps even in a 16GB capacity.

Microsoft will reportedly manufacture about 2.4 million Zune 2.0 devices for the holiday season. Two thirds of these devices are expected to be the flash based players. The new Zunes are expected to be available in November along with Microsoft’s new line of Zune accessories. Pricing information on the new Zune products is unavailable at this time, but expect pricing to be very competitive with similar offerings from Apple.

A Microsoft patent application recently uncovered by DailyTech shows a new social aspect to the Zune player that allows Zune users to subscribe to playlists. The timing of the application leads many to believe this service will be part of the new Zune 2.0 as well.

Updated 10/1/07
Engadget is reporting that its sources suggest that the official launch will be on Wednesday. In addition, Engadget has a picture of the original Zune running 2.1 firmware and Zune-Online has leaked pics of the new flash Zune and slimmed down 2nd gen HDD-based Zune.

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Ready to Buy!
By Hydrofirex on 10/1/2007 5:44:04 PM , Rating: 5
Why does everyone Zune bash!? I understand that the crippled Wi-Fi is annoying and that firmware updates could have delivered a lot more functionality, but the thing is infinitely better than an Ipod - at last to me personally. Before the most recent round of Ipod updates i didn't see anything they had which could even raise an eyebrow. Now, the only thing I would consider is an Ipod touch, but I'll be damned if I'm going to waste 400+ bucks for a pretty interface and 16 gigs of storage. It's like buying a BMW with a 2 cylinder motor.

My brother and my roomate both have Zunes and the thing is nice. The screen is a great size for personal viewing and the interface is clean and pleasant to use. Plus, it has an FM radio tuner. I've been looking for the Zune 2.0 for 2 months or so now and I'm excited it's finally here. I will be purchasing one immediately.


RE: Ready to Buy!
By Ralph The Magician on 10/1/2007 6:01:20 PM , Rating: 5
Why does everyone Zune bash!?

Simple, because Microsoft doesn't get it. The Zune is what I'd call a complete marketing failure. It's probably even not a bad product, but these days the "quality" of a product is second to its presentation.

People already have an iPod...or two...or three...or seven. They already half their music from illegal downloads, and the other half from the iTunes Music Store. They are entrenched in the iPod, and it's going to take a a significant incentive to get them out of the iPod market and back into the DAP market. Yes, you read that right. The iPod has, at least in terms of cross-price elasticities, virtually become its own market. There's a market for iPods, iTunes, and iPod accessories, and then there is the DAP market which is, for most* users (at least most US users), a completely separate market. People do not care about DAPs. Most people don't even know what DAP stands for.

Most people aren't interested in DAPs, and thus, they aren't interested in the Zune. They just don't care. "Zune? What's a Zune? Is that a new iPod? iPod Zune? What? Microsoft? I thought they made Windows?" Microsoft has virtually infinite funds to launch a product like this, and they should have known this.

Now, at least they tried. Not very hard, but they tried. You have to give them that. They tried with their, "Welcome to the Social" crap. That was just incredibly weak. And brown? Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to release a brown media player?

If they actually want to do something they are going to have to present the Zune the same way Apple presents the iPod—as a lifestyle product. The iPod is marketed as a music player. It's marketed as a lifestyle product, like everything else is nowadays. That's what Microsoft needs to do with the Zune if they ever want a piece of the iPod market. They need to present it as something that is not only equally capable, but something equally likeable. A shiny design, flashy commercials, bright colors, simple interface, and a store that's equally easy to use to buy music. They are going to have to give a way free music too, if they want to try to get people to climb out of the iTMS trench.

*I said most—not all. Yes, I know that you move between the two seamlessly because all your music is ripped—blah, blah, blah. You are a small minority.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By TomZ on 10/1/2007 6:08:22 PM , Rating: 5
I predict that Microsoft will be successful in the long term with Zune. Looking at Microsoft's past history, it's not unusual for their first versions of something new to, well, kind of suck. But they usually stick with things and see them through, fixing problems along the way and honing the product to what it should be. The competition is pretty tough, but there's certainly opportunity to unseat Apple, IMO.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By retrospooty on 10/1/2007 7:52:47 PM , Rating: 5
"Looking at Microsoft's past history, it's not unusual for their first versions of something new to, well, kind of suck. But they usually stick with things and see them through, fixing problems along the way and honing the product to what it should be"

Yup. True with everything they do. Look at EI, Office, direct X,Windows, Winmobile, etc... They all started out as crap, but years later and versions later they are all good, and dominate the market they are in. MS has the money and time to keep pushing away until it owns the market. It may never totally own the mp3 market, but it can and will get better and better and own a good chunk of it.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By MADAOO7 on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: Ready to Buy!
By Orpheus333 on 10/1/2007 6:35:05 PM , Rating: 3
Typical statements from the anti-MS camp. The xbox 360 may be a "glorified PC" as you put it (the same said of the original xbox but I digress...) but its come a long way from the original Xbox in a lot more ways than technology. I think if anything the progression of the xbox should be enough for people to stop discounting MSs efforts just because they are MS. IMHO they learn from their mistakes very well.

I believe MS will eventually use all its products to build off one another, IE xbox 360, Vista, Zune...and the table 'thingy' in harmony, a power users dream. I think it will all come together and people will say "Ooooo...."

RE: Ready to Buy!
By MADAOO7 on 10/2/2007 8:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa, who said anything about being anti-MS. I'm a Microsoft shareholder who is simply being frank about the nature of the company. Microsoft started as a company of innovation, and has since that time digressed into following in the footsteps of others innovations. The majority of it's products are still successful, but I really think the company has fallen short of it's mission to lead in innovation. Microsoft has trailed in almost everything it's done in the last decade.

To reply to your comment:

its come a long way from the original Xbox in a lot more ways than technology

Are you kidding? The only thing that did change was it's technology. 360 is simply a more powerful Xbox. Nothing else changed. I should mention that I own a 360, and don't own a Wii. I bought the 360 because I like the games more and I value HD graphics over innovative gameplay.

You mention "Surface" at the very end, and that keeps my hopes alive for Microsoft for the future. But to say that Microsoft has been an innovator and not a laggard in the past several years is simply ignorant.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By Ralph The Magician on 10/1/2007 6:49:44 PM , Rating: 5
See, the thing is you don't actually need a new, glorified feature to unseat Apple. You just need to out market them. That's hard for Microsoft to do, since they don't have an image that really lets they do it, and Zune is not an established brand name. IMO, they should have marketed the Zune under the Xbox branding and moved for more integration with Xbox 360. Create a Zune that's fully capable of running Xbox Live Arcade games and syncs with your 360. That's how you outmarket Apple while adding a new feature at the same time.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By Locutus465 on 10/1/2007 6:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
XP, Xbox 360 is just a glorified PC, and the Zune, is an average run of the mill mp3 player.

Can't speak to Zune since I don't own one (I do much perfer Zune Mp3 service to iTunes which IMO sucks). As far as 360, are you saying that the average PC today runs the Tripple Core IBM Xenon processor (not to be confused with Intel Xenon..)

RE: Ready to Buy!
By MADAOO7 on 10/2/2007 8:58:32 PM , Rating: 1
The Xbox 360 at it's core is simply a mix of computer parts. Of course that kind of chipset is not found in an average computer, but that wasn't the point I was trying to make. I was trying to say that Xbox 360 is simply a very powerful PC, it doesn't attempt to do anything that gaming PC couldn't do. A Nintendo Wii, while still at it's core is a computer, incorporates a new innovation.

I never said there was anything wrong with a 360, but admit to what it is, a very powerful computer that was designed with gaming in mind. It is the logical progression of the orginal Xbox. Take an Xbox, up all the specs, and bam...Xbox 360.

As I said before, I own a 360. I'm not arguing which product is better. I love the games on my 360, and wouldn't trade it for a Wii. At the end of the day though, I know it's just a pc on steroids that makes my PC gaming more affordable.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By cubdukat on 10/1/2007 11:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
I think what sunk the Zune was Microsoft jettisoning the PlaysForSure standard. As badly executed as it was, it still sucked that they strong-armed so many people into adopting it just so they could leave them high and dry two years later. Does anyone believe that that entire song-swap thing actually worked? I highly suspect that quite a few users probably ended up having to buy the Zune-friendly versions of all their P4S tracks.

That was the main reason I passed it up. I like the design of the Zune and the bigger screen, but seeing as I have quite a few P4S tracks from Napster and the late MSN Music, I was not about to take Microsoft's word that I could swap them without issues. For that reason I decided to go with the slightly lesser (but not by much) Zen Vision:M--which got stolen within the first week I owned it.

What I'd be interested in knowing is if the Zune Marketplace will be getting a makeover soon, now that URGE is going away, seeing as it's nothing more than URGE with a new coat of paint, and songs that you can't play on anything else but a Zune.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By Ringold on 10/2/2007 12:12:27 AM , Rating: 2
Aww, you noted cross price elasticity without taking the opportunity to finish it and point out the Zune is, by the same definition, an inferior good ? :P

That's the sort of thing I'd do just to rattle cages, but, I give you points for being a statesman.

Oh, and points for using a "*". Thats almost a first in a post.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By SiliconAddict on 10/1/2007 6:57:57 PM , Rating: 3
Key words "at last to me personally"

Without the scroll wheel, without a hard drive that is at minimum 60GB, without AAC support, (Ain't no way in hell I'm transcoding 58GB of songs.), and without something other then the god awful monstrosity that is WMP I personally won't go anywhere near Zune.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By noirsoft on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Ready to Buy!
By Darthvoy on 10/1/2007 7:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about it being infinitely better than the iPod. I have a Zune and regret getting it. The battery life sucks compared to the iPod's (I have to charge it everyday because I can only get around three hours max). As for the interface being better, What the hell have you been smoking? The iPod's is pretty much the same, if not better.

RE: Ready to Buy!
By peritusONE on 10/2/2007 7:57:38 AM , Rating: 3
The battery life sucks compared to the iPod's (I have to charge it everyday because I can only get around three hours max).

That's definitely not normal, but I can still understand your frustration. I've had my Zune since day 1 last November, and the battery still lasts quite a long time. I typically get to work at around 8am, and the Zune is turned on without a power source around...just the battery. I'd say it stays on 6 hours a day, and by the end of the day, the battery only shows half a bar, but the battery gauge on these things only have 4 increments, so I don't know what percentage we're looking at.

Of course, this thing stays in my car hooked up to the car charger at all times, so I never have to bother with charging. It's main use is in my car when it's wired up to my stereo.

By peritusONE on 10/1/2007 6:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
It's about time. I've been waiting for some new Zune news since I bought mine last year. I owned an iPod Nano and Vision M before, ended up selling both and got the Zune. The interface is easy and fast, video quality is passable, I absolutely love the layout with the huge album art, and my favorite thing is the lack of any touch interface.

If they try to include touch "anything", I'm not upgrading. But if they make it thinner with a bigger hard drive and a few more features, I'm definitely upgrading. I know it's popular to hate on the Zune, but it's the best portable media player that I've owned.

I'm actually surprised Microsoft has been able to keep so much of this secret up until now....they are the worst company for keeping secrets. Hell, the 360 pictures were leaked 2 months before it was announced, only nobody knew that they were the final design because of all the other pictures flooding the place.

RE: Awesome!
By zombiexl on 10/1/2007 8:26:44 PM , Rating: 5
I just bought 3 (1 for me, one for my wife and one for my oldest son) original zune's (thanks to woot) and they seem pretty good so far. I'm not sure why people hate them so much, other than its cool to hate MS..

Obviously, I wont be upgrading anytime real soon since i just bought these.. unless i can make my wife think its still the original model :)...

30GB is plenty of space.. I have more mp3's than that, but i dont listen to all the music i own. Hell while ripping my entire cd collection i found cd's i dont remember buying, duplicate copies of at least 10 cd's (i think i found 3 copies of so far.. so good.. so what..). I honestly cant imagine needing more than 30gb for another year or 2.

RE: Awesome!
By Spivonious on 10/2/2007 9:13:02 AM , Rating: 1
\m/ MEGADETH \m/

Deck stacked against MS
By hinchesk on 10/1/2007 9:35:13 PM , Rating: 1
Until they can outgrow their history MS will always have the deck stacked against them... reasons:
- they've made a lot of money selling a lot of crap, even if they eventually come out with a decent product
- they've played a lot of dirty pool /w competitors and consumers over the years, not many trust MS
- they're so inconsistent it's ridiculous, i.e. Zune not PlayForSure compatible, separate Zune app rather than WMP, brown Zunes, etc

What they can do about it:
- give consumers what they want rather than controlling them, FM/Wifi was a good start how about Divx/Xvid/ogg/flac
- toss stupid ideas like using brown on the Zune
- actually design a product rather than buying and rebadging it
- copy some of Apple's design philosophy, i.e. find a look and apply it in some way to MS products so they're immediately recognizable as MS

RE: Deck stacked against MS
By peritusONE on 10/2/2007 8:02:01 AM , Rating: 2
- give consumers what they want rather than controlling them, FM/Wifi was a good start how about Divx/Xvid/ogg/flac

Microsoft is already adding divx support to their STB media center extenders, and it's a strong rumor that they are adding divx support to the 360 console as well, since it also is a media center extender.

Would it be possible that they add divx support to their mp3 player as well?

RE: Deck stacked against MS
By Funksultan on 10/2/2007 8:25:10 AM , Rating: 2
Divx and Xvid support will make this a buy right away for me. If M$ would get on the ball, just let us load "media center approved" codecs ourselves.

Simple enough to do on their end I would think...

Sandisk makes better player than both
By imaheadcase on 10/1/2007 10:39:43 PM , Rating: 3
Zune/ipod who cares. Sandisk makes better players for years now. But hey I don't follow trendy things just actual function of a player...shocking huh? :P

By Smurfer2 on 10/2/2007 1:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
I have a Sansa E280, can't agree more.

Wake me when there is a 60GB version.
By KeithTalent on 10/1/2007 5:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
Until then I will be holding on to my completely unsupported (but I still love ya baby!) Toshiba Gigabeat S.


By manoj252 on 10/1/2007 6:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
I have one too and love it. I really wish MS had kept the PMC software going instead of killing it when the Zune came out. It is intuitive, functional and has enough eye candy for me!

By Scott66 on 10/2/2007 1:28:12 AM , Rating: 2
When the first Zunes came out, Apple followed with a line up that trounced Microsoft's offering. The only possible benefits of the Zune, Wifi and playforsure, were so mangled and hobbled, Microsoft itself doomed the Zune for failure.

Please let your customers buy music with wifi and develop a good music store. Take advantage, like Amazon, of the music distributors looking for non-Apple portals. Vivendi wants Apple to have some competition so it can have some leverage to pressure Apple to allow flexible pricing.

By thestereotype on 10/2/2007 1:46:19 AM , Rating: 2
yeah, but look at how cardboard thin those babies are!

Zune 2.0?
By mmntech on 10/1/07, Rating: 0
RE: Zune 2.0?
By Smurfer2 on 10/1/2007 5:58:36 PM , Rating: 2
Intrusive DRM? I personally don't own one, but my younger brother does. (I've gotten some time on it) I've seen that comment before and fail to see how it is less intrusive then other DRM schemes.

If you are referring to the DRM on WiFi, it is null when compared to the Ipod classic as the Ipod classic lacks WiFi. (all other Ipods are flash based, so that is irrelevant as well)

Maybe it is the fact that I don't believe the Zune or the Ipods have major flaws...

These look nice, but...
By BPB on 10/2/2007 9:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
These look nice, but the new Creative Zen is what I'm considering. It plays lots of formats, people say the screen's great, it's cheaper, AND it accepts SD cards to boost capacity. like others, I simply don't trust MS to let me use a Zune the way I'd like to use it.

One thing I've been wondering about is how durable these things are. I've read the iPod screens take plenty of abuse, don't know about Zune or Zen though.

First Post!
By chrish89 on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: First Post!
By TomZ on 10/1/2007 5:08:20 PM , Rating: 3
"First Posts" suck.

RE: First Post!
By SunAngel on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: First Post!
By JackBurton on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: First Post!
By softwiz on 10/1/2007 5:26:27 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the 2nd grader decides to accept the freebie based on it's resale value if they don't want it!

RE: First Post!
By MonkeyPaw on 10/1/2007 5:16:15 PM , Rating: 3
So there's a chance he might be getting one for free.

RE: First Post!
By chrish89 on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: First Post!
By SilthDraeth on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: First Post!
By sweetsauce on 10/1/2007 8:28:52 PM , Rating: 2
I personally love the color of the Ipod, it reminds me of a tampon. It fits the device perfectly. You can soak up all the blood as you are bled dry by that overpriced piece of crap.

M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By mondo1234 on 10/1/07, Rating: -1
RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By SavagePotato on 10/1/2007 11:51:42 PM , Rating: 4
Have fun listening to your nexxtech $29 mp3 player. Or using ubuntu to do... um well nothing besides struggle with open office or try to get your mp3 player to actualy work in it to sync up music.

I guess you could go mac but then you realy better be prepared to break out the $$ cause apple wrote the book on overpricing their products. Wanna pay $2000 dollars for a computer thats worth $700, or maybe a $400 mp3 player that has the worst sound quality known to man? Then go Apple.

RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By MaulBall789 on 10/2/2007 10:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
You had it exactly right until you said:

or maybe a $400 mp3 player that has the worst sound quality known to man? Then go Apple.

I have a 4th Gen 20Gig iPod with the old b&w screen, nearly everything ripped at 256k VBR AAC along with a handful of purchased 128k tunes through iTunes and my music sounds fantastic. Maybe you just have (or had) a really bad set of earbuds. I ditched those for something better and could not be happier with the sound quality.

I've listened to the Zen and the Zune and the regular 128k dl from iTunes don't sound any better or worse on my iPod than the stuff I've heard from those. Hating on an iPod because of Jobs isn't any better than hating on anything MS because of Gates.

RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By SavagePotato on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By MaulBall789 on 10/2/2007 4:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
The iRiver was a nice little MP3 player back in the day and I used to listen to a couple of them that my friends had before iPod was even available. But it in no way trumped the iPod in sound quality. A 128k MP3 is not as good in quality as a 128k AAC. Back then it was hard to find anything encoded higher than a 128k MP3.

It's true that downloads from iTunes are AAC only but you can rip CDs in several formats, all with user adjustable bitrate settings to make your music sound as awful or great as you want. Don't know personally with first gen but iTunes might not have been as flexible back then (all of six years ago).

As for your repair scenarios, you are definitely right on. Macs would get infested via bad surfing habits just like anything else, but unless people start buying Macs in droves "security through obscurity" still makes them a bit less of a target. The iPhone debacle though should be a clear enough sign to the average consumer that Apple is in no way immune to hackers. The market leader will always be the biggest target of attacks.

RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By SavagePotato on 10/2/2007 11:42:23 PM , Rating: 2
Reports of poorer sound on various ipod's abound throughout the internet. People claiming that they lack range compared to other players. Nothing regarding the quality of compressed audio whatsoever but the playback capability of the device.

So either they are one heck of alot of liars out there, or the ipod at large isn't up to par.

RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By MaulBall789 on 10/3/2007 8:40:54 AM , Rating: 2
I must have bought the rare good one.

RE: M$ DRM sucks..Remember "Pays for Sure"
By Vertigo101 on 10/3/2007 1:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
If you're serious about getting high-quality audio out of an iPod, take a look at what these guys are doing with them.

By aliasfox on 10/4/2007 11:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
To the average listener, the 128 kbps music file (any format) will still be much more noticeable than the limited sounddstage or awkward bass.

The iPod or any other consumer level electronics good, for that matter, is not for the uber-discerning among us. It allows for "good enough" quality with a reasonable learning curve and cost of entry. To 90% of the world in 99% of environments, the difference between an 85 dB SNR and a 100 dB SNR is negligible, as is the difference between having a response curve of 20 hz to 20 Khz +/- 2 decibels and a response curve of 60 hz to 15 Khz +/- 10 decibels.

People are using iPods at the gym, in the car, or plugged into crappy stereos. They use FM tuners, old 1/8" cables, and tape decks to output to unbalanced speakers that are poorly amplified. Honestly, the iPod is probably the last of their worries there.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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