Engadget talks Zune

With all the rumors and “facts” flying around the intarweb recently concerning Microsoft’s new portable media player, it can be hard to know what is real and not for this device. One of my favorite gadget sites, Engadget, has some details on what’s true and what’s not for Microsoft’s recently announced Zune.

Well, it’s not much, but we’ve got a quote and an official confirmation of the Zune project at Microsoft. The Zune brand is being billed as a “music and entertainment” project aimed at “connecting with others to discover new player_zune.jpgmusic and entertainment and will deliver a family of hardware and software products.” Here’s what they sent over, by way of Microsoft’s GM of marketing, Chris Stephenson:

“Today we confirmed a new music and entertainment project called Zune. Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year. We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together.”

So, what do we (thanks to Engadget) know? Well, here are just a few of the details Engadget has let us in on.

Ok, so we got off the horn with Microsoft just a few minutes ago and realized that making heads or tails of all this Zune stuff is probably driving some of you crazy . (We know others are probably just getting driven crazy by all the posts we’ve been writing about it. Sorry, it’s our job!) So here’s what we know for sure, think we know according to inside sources (i.e. yet unconfirmed information), and what we don’t yet know at all about the Zune.

. . .

(some of) What we know:

  • Zune is the name of the project, the brand, and the device.
  • The first Zune device will be launched this year, with more devices to come in 2007.
  • The Zune media service will heavily leverage community aspects and recommendation; emphasis is being placed on using Zune to discover new artists, media, etc.
  • The Zune media device will be drive-based, and have WiFi.
  • The Zune brand is intended to be an entirely vertically integrated end-to-end solution, not unlike the iPod / iTunes / iTunes Music Store triumvirate.

(some of) What we believe we know:

  • They’ll be showing off the device by the end of next month, and will aim for a November release.
  • A Microsoft portable gaming system is in the works, and will be a part of the Zune family. This device should have Xbox Live Anywhere integration. This may or may not be an Xbox co-branded portable, but is probably going to be the portable gaming / media device we’ve been hearing about for years.
  • The Zune will have a bevy of accessories at launch; it’ll probably be cheaper for accessory makers to develop for the Zune port than pay the Made For iPod tax.

And (some of) what we don’t know yet:

  • Whether the Zune media service will offer the same kind of all-you-can-eat subscription media services as PlaysForSure media services like Napster and Vongo. Supposedly subscription will be offered, but downplayed in favor of song purchase (which is the opposite of most PlaysForSure services).
  • Exact device specifications for the first Zune device, as well as its price (though we hear it could be as much as $399).

Since I’m already stealing a lot of the information Engadget has been so nice as to share, I’ll stop at that. The above lists make up less than half the available information from the full Engadget article. If you want to find out more about Zune, I suggest you head to the source and read all that Engadget has to say. And I have to be honest here – as much as I dislike a lot of what Microsoft has done in the world of software and operating systems, I’ve always found MS hardware to be top-notch. I’ll be watching for the Zune, and may buy one if it gets to a price I can afford.
[tags]Zune, Microsoft, Engadget spills the beans[/tags]