updated 01:05 am EDT, Wed October 3, 2007
Zune Social and MP3 Market
As part of its sweeping changes to the Zune line, Microsoft today greatly expanded the social aspects of its media players. A new addition, called simply the Zune Social, aims to bring social networking to the digital media player space. Accessed from the Zune's rewritten media player software, the service lets fellow Zune owners share music across the Internet rather than just each other's WiFi networks; members can not only create profiles but view recent playlists and buy their tracks, send and receive recommendations, and show the biggest fans of a particular artist to find new friends. The service is currently in beta but will be available to any Zune user with the updated software, which launches this fall.
The Zune Marketplace has not been left idle during the upgrade, Microsoft says. Like a selection of other music stores, the Marketplace now gains a catalog of more than one million songs in the unprotected MP3 format from EMI and other labels. This allows any Windows user to buy from the shop for the first time -- including those using iPods. Over three million songs are available in total, the company says. With the new Zune software, owners can now run searches that include both their own library and the store at the same time. Microsoft did not reveal changes to song pricing but notes that its Zune Pass subscription service will carry over to the new software, allowing users to download unlimited tracks with the Zune's proprietary DRM for $15 per month.