Microsoft on Tuesday announced on its Windows Phone Blog two changes regarding its Windows Phone Marketplace that will “help pave the way for new store features and new apps in the months ahead.” The Redmond-based company will be removing the option to shop for Windows Phone apps from the Zune Desktop software and will now require handsets to be running Windows Phone 7.5 to buy and download new apps, or update existing ones. The Zune Music Marketplace will remain open, and the software will be used to back up music and photos, and to install updates on the Zune HD. More →
Dead or alive? Reports surfaced on Monday suggesting that Microsoft had pulled the plug on its Zune media player, but those were quickly written off as a mistake. On Tuesday, Microsoft did pull the plug and and said in an official death certificate that Windows Phone would be the “focus of [its] video and music strategy moving forward.” However, as of Wednesday, Microsoft’s support team suggests the statements published yesterday were in error as well, and the original statements have since been pulled. “We are still supporting the Zune HD hardware,” Microsoft posted on Twitter. “No official info has been released stating hardware is being discontinued.” Official information was posted, however, and it is likely that this is just a case of one arm not talking to the other. More →
More Zune Phone rumors are again hitting the scene, this time the rumor of the day is originating from the Spanish blog muycomputer. They claim that Microsoft will be unveiling the long-rumored Zune Phone at Mobile World Congress 2010. According to their inside source, the Zune Phone will be introduced by Microsoft with NVIDIA by its side and will even feature an NVIDIA Tegra processor, leading muycomputer to surmise that the handset will indeed be a Zune HD with phone and PDA functionality probably provided courtesy of Windows Mobile 7. The discovery of phone references within the Zune’s inf file is certainly suggestive of the existence of such a Zune Phone but we will have to wait a few more weeks to find out if this rumor is worth its salt.
A triple dose of good news today for those who resent Apple’s stranglehold on the PMP market. Not only is the Zune HD now on sale starting at $219.99, but Microsoft has finally come clean and admitted that in the upcoming months it plans to bombard the Zune faithful and converts alike with apps such as Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune, and games like Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition, Vans Sk8: Pool Service and Audiosurf Tilt. Not only that, but Zune HD owners can also look forward to streaming HD video to the Xbox 360 as well as the ability to purchase and rent TV shows, movies and more. Microsoft, this is yours to mess up… Please don’t. Anyone have a shiny new Zune HD squarely in his or her sights today?
As it turns out, this weekend’s rumored Zune HD preview at Best Buy was the real deal. Tens or even dozens of anxious soon-to-be Zune HD owners (we kid; we want it now) gathered to see the sexy new PMP first hand and one of them even managed to snap an extremely blurry shot of a curious menu item. Mmmm, “Apps”. The attendee tried to access the mysterious menu but lack of Wi-Fi rendered his attempts fruitless. Word on the street is that the Apps menu will be home to various games at launch but we’re still not sure what else will find its way there — certainly something however, lest the menu heading read “Games”. Also of note, one preview attendee claims that the host of this event confirmed the existence of a Zune SDK. This is definitely rumor status right now but it would certainly go a long way to support the inevitable arrival of a Zune app store of sorts.
As if anyone had doubts surrounding the legitimacy of yesterday’s Zune HD leak, today Microsoft confirmed availability for September 15th and let it be known that pre-orders for the black 16GB and platinum 32GB models are now being filled through Zune.net, Microsoft, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart. In case you’re waiting on the other five colors that the Tegra-powered portable will be available in at launch, you’ll just have to sit tight for now. Don’t cry though — maybe we can cheer you up by letting you know that pricing is now 100 percent confirmed: $219.99 for the 16GB model and $289.99 for the 32GB model. We’ll take six of each, thank you.
Mark your calendars and get your credit cards ready as the Zune HD will be dropping in just over a month. Thanks to a leaked Best Buy pre-order flyer, we now have a tentative launch date to accompany the rumored pricing for the Zune HD. Zero hour for Microsoft’s slick new portable media player is September 15th, a week later than previously reported. With all the pre-launch leaks out of the way, now all we have to do is wait for Microsoft to make these details official and see if the folks in Redmond can do so before those rumored iPods try to steal the HD’s limelight. Hit the jump for some more Best Buy Zune HD signage and a quick peek at the Zune HD packaging.
We wouldn’t go as far as to call Microsoft’s upcoming Zune refresh a PMP hail mary, but it’s pretty clear that a lot is riding on Redmond’s upcoming players. So far we really like what we’ve seen of the Zune HD — and that statement is now expanded to include pricing. Last night some Best Buy inventory screen caps revealed the Zune HD’s price points and as of this morning we can consider them confirmed thanks to Amazon. App Store aside, we’re looking at a device far more capable and exciting compared to Apple’s iPod touch, and according to Amazon’s pre-order page, the 16GB will launch at $219.99 (compared to $299 for the 16GB iPod touch) and the 32GB model will hit the streets at $289.99 (compared to $399 for the 32GB iPod touch). Yeah, that’s no typo — you’ll be able to get a 32GB Zune HD for $9.01 less than a 16GB iPod touch. The Best Buy screenshots also add weight to the previously rumored September 8th launch date so it looks like we’ve got less than a month until lift off. The only question is whether or not Apple’s impending iPod touch refresh will tout enough bells and whistles at launch to overshadow Microsoft’s new gem. Hit the jump for the Best Buy images.
Perhaps the current crop of personal media players on the market just isn’t doing anything for you. It’s perfectly understandable of course, what with modern mobile phones catching up to dedicated players more and more each day. This very fact is the reason that Microsoft’s upcoming Zune HD continues to pique our interest. 3.3-inch 480 x 272 OLED capacitive touchscreen display, built-in HD Radio receiver, HD output (requires an optional dock), Wi-Fi, integrated web browser, multitouch support and Xbox LIVE integration… And of course we recently learned this little spitfire will pack NVIDIA’s Tegra processor at its core. According to a Gizmodo tipster, it looks like Microsoft plans to offer this peppy PMP in 16GB and 32GB varieties — fair enough — and it may be shooting for a September 8th launch. It’s as good a date as any we suppose, and leaves plenty of time to get early adopters on board before a nice little price drop/sale in time for the holidays. Why not?
We have to admit it… We’re a little afraid. Afraid of what you might ask? Afraid that all this hype surrounding the now-reportedly confirmed Zune HD is going to be the height of excitement with regards to the device. Hype is good, hype is great, but you need something special to follow the hype in order for it to stick. Let’s take a look at the known specs:
- ~3.6-inch OLED full touchscreen
- NVIDIA Tegra powered
- 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions
- HDMI Connection to stream straight to your TV
- HD Radio
- Web browser
- Wi-Fi compatible, with wireless marketplace
- Released, early fall
- International release of the Zune device itself
- Home AV packs, Car packs, Charge packs
Sounds good and fun, but there’s definitely nothing so far that would (or should) draw much attention. HD radio? Mmm hmm. The Zune platform is supposedly in the midst of an overhaul which is nice but we need a wow-factor here. The average consumer is most definitely not going to pass on an iPod Touch and scoop up a Zune HD because of a high resolution display and HD radio, that’s for sure. Long story short, we hope Microsoft learned something from its experiences with the current Zune model.
Back in January after we learned that Zune sales and platform revenue was down $100 million under the previous quarter, we asked whether the Zune was ultimately doomed to die an unglamorous death or if Microsoft had an ace up its sleeve. Last night, Engadget posted some images that they feel, based upon some chitchat with sources, are of an upcoming touchscreen PMP known as the Zune HD. Because of the lack of anything other than a few promotional shots we’re going to have to resort to the age-old game of speculation when discussing the Zune HD, but if all of this turns out to be true we think it reasonable to expect that the Zune HD would ship with a display that approaches 720p and (based upon our measurement of the screen in the images) an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 — one of two standard aspect ratios used by mainstream films. But as we say so often in the tech blogging world, we shall see. Would a Zune HD have any chance of finding its way into your pocket or has the Zune ship already sailed for you?