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Rather unexpectedly, Microsoft Corp. has officially announced its Zune digital music player. While not a lot of new details concerning the device were released, the main thing that Microsoft said is that Zune is not just another music player, but rather a platform for entertainment that will not only offer a feature-set, but will improve over time.

“The digital music entertainment revolution is just beginning. With Zune, we are not simply delivering a portable device, we are introducing a new platform that helps bring artists closer to their audiences and helps people find new music and develop new social connections,” said J Allard, vice president, design and development, at Microsoft, who is leading the charge for building the family of Zune products.

As expected, Microsoft’s Zune player will be available in three colours with a duotone approach on each. The device will have a 3” screen, contain a 30GB hard disk drive as well as some functionality, not currently available on competing products, such as Apple iPod or Creative Zen, including ad-hoc music sharing between a group of people in the range of the device, FM as well as digital radio, thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity. Along with the Zune device, Microsoft is expected to launch its new online music store called Zune Marketplace.

According to previous news-stories, the player will launched on the 14th of November, 2006.

Microsoft said that in addition to the features available at launch, built-in wireless technology and powerful software “provide a strong foundation to continue to build new shared experiences around music and video”. As Zune evolves, the device can be updated via the Internet.

The world’s largest software maker also said that three accessory packs will be available at launch, including:

  • The Zune Car Pack includes everything needed to hit the road with a Zune device, such as the built-in FM tuner with AutoSeek and the Zune Car Charger.
  • The Zune Home A/V Pack enhances your experience in the home through five products that integrate Zune with the TV and music speakers: Zune AV Output Cable, Zune Dock, Zune Sync Cable, Zune AC Adapter and the Zune Wireless Remote for Zune Dock.
  • Zune Travel Pack is a set of five products designed to keep friends and family entertained on the road: Zune Premium Earphones, Zune Dual Connect Remote, Zune Gear Bag, Zune Sync Cable and the Zune AC Adapter.

Microsoft is also working with leading accessory manufacturers Altec Lansing, Belkin Corp., Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO), Dual Electronics, Griffin Technology, Harman Kardon and JBL, Integrated Mobile Electronics, Jamo International, Klipsch Audio Technologies, Logitech, Monster Cable Products Inc., Speck, Targus Group International Inc. and VAF Research.

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