What's on tap for tonight's Zune launch?

Summary:At the October 2 invitation-only Zune launch, Chairman Bill Gates and Corporate Vice President of Design and Development J Allard are expected to take the wraps Besides the new Zunes ("Scorpio" hard-drive and "Draco" flash-based units). Microsoft also is expected to unveil a new beta community site for Zunes, an enhanced method of discovering new music and a line of Microsoft-developed accessories. Sounds like midnight EST is when those who have been briefed can go live with their stories.

Word is Microsoft is doing another "Searchification"-like announcement this week -- this time around its new line of Zune digital-media players.

What’s on tap for tonight’s Zune launch?
As with Searchification, Microsoft has invited reporters and bloggers to an event which they aren't allowed to write publicly about until after midnight (EST) on October 3, sources say. At the October 2 invitation-only Zune launch, Chairman Bill Gates and Corporate Vice President of Design and Development J Allard are slated to take the wraps off the Version 2 Zune devices, according to sources claiming familiarity with Microsoft's plans.

Besides the new Zunes ("Scorpio" hard-drive and "Draco" flash-based units), Microsoft is expected to unveil a new beta community site for Zunes, an enhanced method of discovering new music and a line of Microsoft-developed accessories (perhaps an FM transmitter and dock?). A new online Zune store, which is more tightly integrated with the Xbox Live Marketplace, also might be part of this evening's rollout, sources said.

Microsoft officials aren't commenting on what is on tap. But the key message, tipsters say, is that Microsoft is going to be in this market for the long-haul. Just as the case with the Xbox, Microsoft isn't going to abandon the Zune market just because it won't turn a profit for a number of years -- if ever.

Do you think Microsoft is taking the right course in not ceding the digital-media-player market to Apple? Should there be a self-imposed time and/or investment limit as Microsoft tries and tries again to get the Zune right?

Update: Looks like the embargoes were lifted at 10 p.m. EST. Three new models; no more brown; a new social-networking-oriented community site; and less restrictive song-sharing are among what was announced officially. For more, see The Hollywood Reporter's coverage of the Zune unveiling.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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