Saturday, November 17, 2007

Microsoft Set to Start Sales of New Zune Players on Tuesday

Microsoft Corp. on Monday confirmed that it would start to sell new versions of its Zune portable digital media players on the 13th of November and also announced numerous new intentions that will help end-users to customize their players and obtain new content. The new features are projected to revive sales of Microsoft’s players that have been lagging behind Apple iPod since the introduction last year.

Earlier this year Microsoft announced three new models of Zune portable digital media players: black Zune 80GB hard disk drive-based model, which has a 3.2” screen and comes with premium headphones as well as ultra-portable Zune 4GB and Zune 8GB flash-based models, both available in pink, green, black and glossy red. The new Zune players will have the same functionality as the first 30GB model, including Wi-Fi support, FM radio, music sharing and so on and will add more with forthcoming software updates.

The two new Zune models feature the new Zune Pad, an innovative 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.

Consumers will also have an option to customize their Zune player with laser-engraved designs and personal text through a new Web store called Zune Originals. Customers will be able to purchase a Zune player directly from Microsoft and choose from a collection of laser-engraved artwork designed exclusively for Zune by 18 internationally recognized artists.

“We’re bringing the entire category to the next level by empowering consumers to play a role in redefining the digital music experience. Zune brings music discovery and acquisition into one simple, end-to-end solution, and the addition of unique customization options puts the originality back into portable entertainment,” said said J Allard, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Zune.

There are two key software-based innovations that the new Zune bring: Zune Social network and updated Zune Marketplace with Zune Pass. The Zune Social network will help customers to seek music preferences of their friends and similar-minded individuals and discover new music for themselves. The new Zune Marketplace, which features music collection that consists of three million music tracks, will offer flat rate ($14.99) access for the whole collection for a month, something that is not available at other large music stores, such as Apple iTunes or’s store, but is present on such stores as eMusic. Besides, Microsoft will offer to buy DRM-free music files.

Microsoft Zune 80GB will have manufacturer suggested retail price of $249, whereas Zune 4GB and 8GB will be available for $149 and $199, respectively.

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