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Microsoft introduces the Zune next generation
Posted on 3-Oct-2007 19:13 | Tags Filed under: News

Microsoft introduces the Zune next generation
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and Corporate Vice President J Allard have unveiled the next generation of Zune portable media players, software and online store. Gates and Allard also introduced Zune Social, a beta online community Web site.

The two new models of Zune portable media players feature the new Zune Pad, a touch-sensitive button for navigating on the device, as well as wireless sync, a feature that allows Zune devices to automatically sync over the device owner’s home wireless network when it is connected to an AC adaptor, in a dock or speaker dock accessory.

Existing Zune owners will automatically receive new software features, the redesigned PC and device software and access to the new Zune Marketplace when everything is released to the public in mid-November.

Microsoft announced three new models of Zune portable digital media players: a black Zune 80GB hard-drive model, which has a 3.2-inch screen and comes with premium headphones for a suggested price of US$249.99; the Zune 4GB with a street price of US$149.99; and Zune 8GB with price of US$199.99 flash models, both available in pink, green, black and glossy red.

The new Zune devices feature the Zune Pad navigation button, with a touch-sensitive surface. Consumers can flick their thumbs over the pad to fly through lists of songs or albums or to fast-forward through picture slide shows or videos. For those who need to pause, advance or adjust the volume on the device without looking, they can also navigate the Zune Pad using physical cues by pressing on the four sides or the center of the button to adjust the volume or choose the next track.

Together with the original Zune 30GB, the new devices round out the player family and lets users choose the size, color or price that suits them best. Every Zune device includes built-in wireless features and an FM tuner. All devices have been given new menus, and it is easy to customize the background screen with a personal picture.

Microsoft has created an Extended Wireless Sharing feature that allows users to share select full-length songs, albums, playlists, pictures and audio podcasts from device to device. Consumers can now listen to any song received up to three times with no time restrictions, and they can now also pass along songs to other friends who have a Zune.

The Zune software will also automatically import broadcast content recorded on Microsoft Windows Media Center for Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate, so consumers can sync them onto their Zune media player and watch them later.

Zune Social is a beta online community Web site launched in beta, giving people a place to share their music tastes, knowledge and experiences with others. Anyone can create a free, customizable Zune Card that automatically updates to reflect the music they are listening to on their Zune or with Zune software on their computer. The Zune Card shows most recently played tracks and highlights that person’s all-time music favorites.

Other members of Zune Social can play samples of the songs a user has been playing directly from a friend’s Zune Card or link to Zune Marketplace, where they can buy or download the music. Zune Social will eventually enable its members to place the Zune Card on other social networking sites, where it will continue to update automatically and show off what its owners are listening to.

In addition to creating a friends list, members of Zune Social can send song links and messages to each other, post comments on a friend’s profile page or on their favorite artist pages. They can discover new music by seeing what their friends are listening to, receiving recommendations from others in the community or by seeing what the top fans of artists they’re interested in are listening to. Each artist page will list the Zune Cards of the people who listen to that artist the most, making it easy for other Zune Social members to browse their recent playlists and discover new content they can sample, purchase or download with a Zune Pass.

Zune Marketplace continues to offer Zune Pass, which lets consumers download as much music as they want for a flat monthly rate of US$14.99.

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