And... We're Official!
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/03/unveiling.aspx' target='_blank'>http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/03/unveiling.aspx</a><br /><br /></div><img alt="" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/500/zt/auto/1191386899.usr1.jpg" /><br /><br />Wow. What a night. I've long speculated that the reason we've heard nary a peep from the dev team this past year was because they were working on something <em>SOOOO COOOL</em> that it would be worth waiting for. I'd be lying to say I'm disappointed: Microsoft has exceeded my expectations once again, releasing two new flash players and an 80 GB "daddy" player. They all feature support for Vista MCE-encoded shows, mpeg and h.264 codecs, lossless playback (the exact codec hasn't been released yet), wireless syncing (over home network or ad hoc), removal of the time limit on the Zune-to-Zune sharing, and best of all, this is all backwards compatible with Zune1, which will be continued on as its own product. The new players feature the rumored "squircle", which isn't click-sensitive as rumored, but rather is multi-directionally touch-sensitive, allowing an iPhone/iPod Touch-like flicking motion through your library. The more you flick, the faster it goes. Tapping down directly puts on the "breaks".<br /><br />The firmware and sync software have been rebuilt from the ground up, and look like nothing I've seen before. The interface of the Marketplace (more on this in a second) looks especially cool and intuitive. They'll also be launching "<a target="_blank" href="http://www.zunesocial.net/">Zune Social</a>", a social networking component that allows you to share your library with friends, and will eventually integrate into previously existing social networks (think MySpace and Facebook). The concept is familiar to anyone who's used Xbox's GamerTag service, but geared towards music rather than games, obviously. Apparently, the pieces are now much tighter integrated: a song a friend sends you via Zune-to-Zune or Zune Social will show up in your inbox, which can then be linked to the Marketplace.<br /><br />The Marketplace now supports Podcasts! Not only that, but it now features music videos and a true artist connection. In case its 3 million DRM'd tracks weren't enough, 1 million of them are now going DRM-free in MP3. <br /><br />The rundown:<br /><ul> <li>Flash Zunes coming out, featuring 1.8" screen, come in matte black, pink, and green, and shiny red (apparently they'll all feature some variation of the Double Shot, the specifics haven't been confirmed yet).<br /> <ul> <li>Dubbed Zune 4 and Zune 8 (after their storage size, in GB), sell for $150 and $200, respectively</li> </ul> </li> <li>Zune 80 (a--surprise!--80 GB player). According to Cesar, it's 27% smaller than the current gen, but has a 14% bigger screen. Amazing.<br /> </li> <li>Zune Gen1, now called Zune 30, will be getting all the same features as its younger brothers and sisters.</li> <li>Firmware and software built from the ground up <ul> <li>Look incredibly cool</li> </ul> </li> <li> Marketplace has 3 million songs, 1 million of which can be purchased in DRM-free MP3<br /> </li></ul>We'll be receiving the update for the current gen Zunes in mid-November when the other products launch. The Zune team was apparently very cautious not to break any accessory compatibility, and have tested to make sure that the old works with the new, and the new with the old. Today is a day I know my $250 was well-spent.<br /><br />Check out <a href="http://www.Zune.net" target="_blank">Zune.net</a> and <a href="http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/03/unveiling.aspx" target="_blank">Cesar's post</a> for more.