According to today’s press releases, Microsoft’s new Zune media player will debut in stores on 14 November, retailing for $249.99. Walmart is now accepting pre-orders for the units in white, black and brown.
Individual songs will cost $0.99, paid for using Microsoft Points. (You buy the points and then pay for the songs with points, 79 points per track.) You can also subscribe for $14.99 a month to an unlimited Zune Pass, allowing access to “millions of songs”.
“On Nov. 14 we’re delivering not only a device, but a shared, social experience that will be shaped by the collective imagination of consumers,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune. “We’re infusing the spirit of discovery and sharing into everything we do — from the experience we crafted around the device and service to pre-loading music and videos on every device to expose people to something new.”
The Zune Store
At first glance, the Zune application looks a lot like iTunes. A tabbed index column on the left allows access to your music, video and photos libraries. You create playlists and can shop in the Zune store, complete with featured artists, top songs and albums. There are no videos yet on-sale. A “journal” feature in this column presumably allows you to share your song choices and pictures with other members of the Zune community. Another column entity “My Zune” indicates additional ways to customize your Zune experience.
Towards the middle of the top of the program window, you find this sign-in button, with direct access to your program (and I presume Zune unit) options, window controls (at least I think that’s what the 4 squares indicate) and of course, a search field.
Four icons, found to the right of the windows control, the options icon, the account sign-in and search field, offer four unidentified features. My best guess? Publishing playlists, burning to CD, shuffle and play/pause–although I’m really rotten at figuring out this icon stuff.
A Genre pull-down lets you skip to the particular section of the marketplace that interests you. This duplicates the functionality of the Genre option in the left-hand column.
As with iTunes 7, this Marketplace column includes an Active Downloads link, which I thought was a great new iTunes 7 feature. Additionally, you can search or browse through Marketplace playlists, charts, artists, albums, songs, genre and years.
So how does it all look? Pretty good, I think. On the other hand, I thought iTunes 7 looked pretty good too–and quite a lot of UI-type folk are not very happy with it. So take my opinion for what it’s worth.
More info as I discover it.
Watch this space.