Microsoft gets official on the Zune announcement.

So we now have official announcement of the Zune branded hardware and software products.  This will hopefully let us move into the market space that is currently dominated by the iPod and iTunes.

I have yet to see the actual player but the previously mentioned screenshots from Engadget and the rumors they are coupling with them seem to be the best source of information and leaks.

From Engadget:

What we know (for sure)

  • Zune is the name of the project, the brand, and the device.
  • The first Zune device will be launched this year, with more devices to come in 2007.
  • The Zune brand encompasses not only the device, but the software that will drive it, as well as a music, movie, and media service the Zune device family will use for acquiring, sharing, and discovery of said media. Music will be the first angle of service that is launched, "connected entertainment" being the ultimate goal.
  • The Zune media service will heavily leverage community aspects and recommendation; emphasis is being placed on using Zune to discover new artists, media, etc.
  • The Zune media device will be drive-based, and have WiFi.
  • The Zune brand is intended to be an entirely vertically integrated end-to-end solution, not unlike the iPod / iTunes / iTunes Music Store triumvirate.
  • The service and device will not be PlaysForSure compliant, meaning you will not be able to use your Zune player with Napster or Vongo, for example. This will be an entirely new system. Microsoft will continue to support and develop for their PlaysForSure initiative, but all things PlaysForSure are handled by two entirely separate division that will not have any crossover.
  • Zune is under Microsoft's new Entertainment & Devices Division, and is headed by, among others, Robbie Bach, J Allard (Corporate Vice President and Chief XNA Architect), and Bryan Lee (Corporate Vice President and CFO, Entertainment and Devices Division), which accounts for the division of this project from the rest of Microsoft, similar to how the Xbox project was also strictly separated.
  • The logo we had is, of course, real.
  • Microsoft's launched the Zune viral marketing site, . [Thanks, bv]