Microsoft plans to have the three new Zunes in mid-November, for now in the United States, in time to compete against Apple’s iPods during the Christmas sales campaign. The fight for the moment has a clear winner, for the moment, since if you compare the sales figures of both devices, the balance clearly tips in favor of the iPod: the first generation of Zune has sold 1.2 million devices since its launched in November (according to Microsoft) and Apple has sold 100 million iPods since the first model appeared in 2001.
Microsoft has also launched “Zune Social” in beta version, it is an online music community that allows users of its players to share their musical tastes, knowledge and experiences with other users of it. At the same time, Microsoft’s online music store called “Zune Marketplace” has been redesigned and has one million MP3 files without DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection and can be played both on the Zune and on any device. The move toward selling DRM-free music in your store follows similar strategies to other companies like Apple, which offers both DRM-free and DRM-free music; or like Amazon, which last week announced the beta version of its MP3 download service.
The top-performing model of the three new Zune has an 80GB hard drive and has a suggested retail price of $ 250 (about € 176). The other two models use flash memory. The 4GB model has a MSRP of $ 150 (€ 105) and is considered an ultraportable model, while the 8GB model has a MSRP of $ 200 (€ 141). Two of them have a touch control button called the Zune Pad that allows you to move through playlists or albums, or browse photos or videos at high speed.
Microsoft has also improved music sharing features, for example: removing the time restriction for users to listen to songs that other users pass to them. Now you can send entire songs, playlists, albums, pictures or audio podcasts from one device to another. The user who receives the information through this method can reproduce all the received content up to three times without any time restriction, and can also pass it on to other users.
Existing Zune users will automatically receive a software update with the new features, redesigned sync software, and will be able to access the new Zune Marketplace, as soon as it is available to the public in mid-November.