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Microsoft Corp. has announced official pricing and release date for its Zune digital media player. As expected, the product will be released in mid-November, however, it will be somewhat cheaper than unofficial sources originally projected.

In accordance with earlier reports, Microsoft Zune will start to be sold on the 14th of November, 2006. But its price will be $249, much lower than $399 anticipated initially and even lower than $299 projected later on. This may be an indicator that Microsoft does not want to rival Apple Computer’s iPod 30GB with higher amount of features at higher price, but prefers to offer more at the same price-point.

Microsoft will also pre-load some content, including songs, music videos and film shorts on the device’s hard drive. Even though very few users will appreciate the value of pre-loaded content, they will still be able to evaluate the player’s capabilities before loading their own favourite songs into the device.

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.

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