Recent questions about the future of the Microsoft Zune music/video service have remained largely unanswered. But my contacts have shared a new, relevant piece of the puzzle. And that piece is codenamed "Ventura."
Ventura, from what my tipsters tell me, is the name of a set of services being developed by Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices (E&D) unit. These services are focused on music and video discovery and consumption. They sound, from my sources, as though they include recommendations, ratings and comments.
Here's a recent Microsoft job description I found mentioning a Ventura Media Services team:
The Ventura Media Services team is looking for a highly motivated Software Development Engineer to help drive some great new service innovation.
Who are we? We are Ventura Media Services - an agile team working on the beginning of some very large scale projects. We incubate, innovate and iterate. We are all about building services the right way. The team is a tight group of music and video lovers that create services and experiences revolving around music\video discovery and consumption. We are not afraid to try new things in the name of pushing the bleeding edge of technology.
As a member of the team, you will work closely with all of our partners to release features on a rapidly iterative development cycle. You will get the chance to work with other IEB product teams to help deliver epic end-to-end scenarios across all 3 screens.
In this position you will have the chance to help choose direction and drive innovation on some of the most cutting edge media services. Think large scale. Think Azure. Being a web and services group, our goal is to release early and often while maintaining high quality. If you are a proven developer that likes to drive innovation, then this is the place for you!
From what I've heard, I believe the Ventura services are being built by the IEB Services team headed by David Treadwell. I blogged about this team recently, noting it was adding a number of Microsoft services veterans including Distinguished Engineer Don Box. (Box, by the way, also happens to be a musician. Anyone remember his "Miguel My Belle" ode to Miguel de Icaza at the 2003 Professional Developers Conference? It was a classic.)
Does Ventura end up replacing the Zune music/video service? Does it end up complementing it in some way? Will Ventura end up built into future Xbox consoles, Windows Phones, and Windows PCs? I've still got a lot more questions than answers. In fact, the only answer I did get from Microsoft about the future of its Zune service is that the company is "committed to providing a great music and video experience" -- which may or may not be Zune -- across its various platforms.