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

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


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Doing Apple A Favor???

    by offering the Zune is Microsoft actually mitigating a potential onslaught against Apple by the EU? After all it is well known that the EU's philosophy is thoroughtly anti-American.
    • How many more times??!!!

      Microsoft is a global company trading in the EU. It has European subsidurary companies subject to law in the various local EU countries.

      Microsoft has been shown to have broken EU law with some of it's trading practices within the EU and has been punished accordingly.

      Most of the complaints leading to the investigations into Microsoft were prompted by complaints by other European subsiduries of large American tech companies.

      PLEASE put the stars and stripes away, and realise this is just the same as a Company like Honda or Philips breaking US law when it is selling in the US, I'm sure you would applaud the US legal system taking action if this were to happen.

      Sorry to break this to you but US law is not world law, no matter how much you might wish it, and other countries have different views on fair practice in business.
  • RE: What's on tap for tonight's Zune launch?

    [i]Do you think Microsoft is taking the right course in not ceding the digital-media-player market to Apple?[/i]


    [i]Should there be a self-imposed time and/or investment limit as Microsoft tries and tries again to get the Zune right?[/i]

    Yes, and it should have ended with the last Zune experiment.

    I'm all for competition, and as long as you're making money... go for it. But when you're losing money and not really gaining any marketshare you're doing yourself and your shareholders a disservice.
    • So they should have gave up on Word and Excell?

      I mean it took years for them to take the market away from WordPerfect and Lotus 123.

      I think your silly if you believe what you wrote. Unseating the encumbant takes time, money, and effort. MS has all three in abundant supply.
      • Yeah, right ... No_facts

        "I mean it took years for them to take the market away from WordPerfect and Lotus 123."

        It took that long for M$ to break the code ... ain't done til the competition don't run...

        Get your fax in order
        • Your "fax" machine is broken.

          And no, the lies about code stopping it were just that, lies.
          • "Your" facts machine is broken ...

            "Dos Ain't Done 'til Lotus Won't Run"


            Get it N0_FAX_to_Send ]:)
          • So, you'll quote nonesense as fact?

            How about I point to a blog that talks about how Lotus reworote their code to disable Excel, and instead it backfired and disabled their own software (even though 123 was never "broke")

            Would that cancle out your link?
            John Zern
          • You are a sad little fella.

            The saving grace in this is the open source community is stuck with you. They have to let anyone play.
          • No_Ax, you are WAY to old to deny the Lotus / DRDOS issues!

            Microsoft DID CODE to break stuff and I am sure they still do it today.

            Guess what, I have an old Win 3.11 system that I will load Lotus Screen cam on and SHOW YOU the message.

            No lies - only the big liar known as Microsoft!
        • History lesson

          Lotus: Devotees waited 4 years to get version 2.0 of 1-2-3, which was only an incremental improvement on version 1.0A. In the meantime, MS was committed to a GUI spreadsheet that would run only on 80286 processors and above (remember "the soul of the new machine" ad campaign), ditching the dominant 8088 hardware base in favor of reduced development time. Lotus then wasted their effort on an OS/2 version. As Windows was catching on among "power users" in 1989 (in anticipation of Windows 3.0 in 1990), Excel was the only GUI spreadsheet game in town. Lotus's version of 1-2-3 for Windows (1991) was late and not as polished as Excel, already on Version 3.0. Excel's success had nothing to do with Microsoft "breaking" the code--just bad business decisions on Lotus's part.

          WordPerfect: These folks argued for years that no one should even NEED a GUI word processor, since word processing was about, well, words. But Version 1.0 of MS Word for Windows (1989) got people to take a look at GUI and Word for Windows 2.0 (1991) changed the perception of what word processing should be. WordPerfect's first Windows version (1991) was rushed to market and more buggy than MS's second effort. Though WordPerfect retained its market dominance for longer than Excel, the rapid shift to Windows from 1990-1992 left them playing catch-up. The packaging of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint as MS Office in 1993, at a heavily discounted price (basically 3 programs for the price of 1), killed WordPerfect as businesses that were buying Windows computers were looking to make to move to all GUI apps.

          In the end, the failure of Lotus and WordPerfect to move beyond the 8088 hardware base and embrace Windows was their undoing. Nothing to do with "breaking" code.
          Rodney Davis
      • re: give up

        [i]I think your silly if you believe what you wrote.[/i]

        I have been accused of that before, and I agree... I am silly. But I don't know if their first effort into the Office suite was received quite as luke-warmly as the Zune. Who knows, as you say they do have a large stash of cash, but I don't think that particualr investment will pay off. We'll see.
        • ok, sorry...

          I may have spoke harsher than intended.

          I was not talking about Office as a suite, Word and Excel were both issued as stand alone apps (with a mouse of all things) and no one thought either had any chance at all to take any meaningful market share. Both apps did in fact have a tough time gaining traction, but Microsoft had faith, built a getter GUI to go with the fresh new OS called Windows. As they say, the rest is history.

          Microsoft is not staffed with stupid people, at any level of the company. They learn from all they do and they adapt and then they market their products. I dare say they market better than any company I can think of and being the underdog (IBM, Lotus, WordPerfect, DBase, Netscape, QuickTime, Sony Playstation, Nintendo, MP3, on and on and on.) has never scared them from the market. In fact I am certain they plan on releasing a product and then fine tuning it over time.

          Then we also have the market leader (Apple) making some really bad mistakes. They have an almost adversarial relationship with the content owners they depend up on for content, and the recent strong arming of iPhone owners is making Apple enemies far too quickly. The problem I see for Apple is that while the Mac faithful would live with the iron clad lock in surrounding the Mac, that is not who is buying iPods and iPhones. These "new" customers come from a much more open ecosystem (Windows/Open Source) and are not tolerant about it at all. It sort of reminds me of WordPerfect telling users they didn't need a GUI and to shut up about it.

          As you say, we'll see. But my money is on MS winning in the long term.
      • I think there are major differences between

        then and now. Back then technology was still new just as word processors were.

        People are more educated about technology today then they were back in those days.

        Different playing field and Microsoft is no longer the "underdog".
      • One HUGE difference.

        Both WP and Lotus (and dBase) stood still and let the wold pass them buy. To date,
        MS is still trailing Apple's design and implementation. Significantly.

        MS was shooting at a still target and they had good aim. They do not do as well with a
        moving target.
    • Please. Microsoft is a MONOPOLY with 60 BILLION to spend!

      They will do anything and everything to get other markets. That is their SOP~! They will stay in the game for 10 years until they win. They simply can not stand to lose!

      Microsoft- what other business can we steal/take over today?
  • Another flop in the works

    I guess M$ like having pie on its face. You would think after the disasters of the Zune 1 and Vista, they wouldn't be so soon to market with another turd.
    • Does this apply both ways?

      The Zune has managed to take a little over 10% of the media player market, not bad, but certainly not up there with the iPod. The iPhone is, what, less than 1% of the market, and you would probably call it a huge success. Do I detect a double standard here?
      • 10 percent?

        From whence cometh such obsure figures? P'raps tis the conjuring of Microsoftian wizards?

        Methinks he doth astroturf too much.

        Microsoft has some minimally perceptable percentage of the HARD DRIVE MP3 player market, but drops to total insignificance when opened up to the "media player" market.

        It has 100% of the ugly brown squirting market....
        • My bad

          Correct, my bad. Zune is about 11% of the hard drive media player market, not the entire market.

          Interesting, though, that you didn't address my comment about iPhone success/Zune disaster. Perhaps you are another one of those "Apple can do no wrong, Microsoft can do no right" sorts.