Microsoft is delivering the long-promised spring firmware update for its Zune HD over the 'next few weeks,' company officials said on March 29.
I received an e-mail message from a Zune HD spokesperson this evening. Here's what's coming in the so-called Zune 4.5 update, according to that message:
* Smart DJ on Zune HD: "We added 'Smart DJ' to the Zune software last fall and now we’re bringing this popular music discovery feature (and instant playlist creator) to the Zune HD device." According to Microsoft, "if you have a Zune Pass music subscription it will pull music from your existing collection and the Zune Marketplace catalog to create the mix. If you don’t have a Zune Pass subscription you can still use Smart DJ to build a playlist from the collection on your device." * Picks on Zune HD: Picks is another music recommendation feature in the Zune software which Microsoft is making available on the Zune HD device. "The Picks algorithm analyzes what you listen to and compares that to millions of other Zune users to make personalized recommendations. With this update, you’ll be able to access these automatic recommendations directly on the Zune HD device as well as on your PC," the Softies explain.
* Browse and Stream Music from Zune Marketplace on your TV: Using the Zune HD A/V dock, you can connect your Zune HD to your TV to play your favorite videos and music from your device on the big screen. With the 4.5 update, users also will be able to browser and stream music from Zune Marketplace directly on their TVs.
* Expanded Video Codec Support: With expanded support to include MPEG-4 Part 2 Advanced Simple Profile (ASP), which includes Xvid and AVI support, users can access broader range of video content natively on Zune HD with no transcoding required.
The 4.5 update will be available as a free download "in the next few weeks," according to the spokesperson.
I've been wondering whether the Zune HD update will also add support for Windows Phone 7 devices in any way. I asked Microsoft officials about this recently and didn't receive a yay or a nay....