updated 07:25 am EDT, Tue May 6, 2008
Zune TV Shows
Microsoft this morning gave the Zune its first true video service. The version 2.5 update to the Zune software now lets users buy TV shows from the Zune Marketplace and allows them to choose from over 800 episodes from various shows and TV networks, including former iTunes supporter NBC Universal. Shows are sorted not only by network but also by genre, allowing users to browse animation or dramas regardless of the provider. Each show is priced equally to shows from its Apple rival at 160 Microsoft points ($1.99 in the US) but doesn't qualify for the unlimited-access Zune Pass.
The video service should support all Zunes and is available today, Microsoft says.
In addition to the video catalog, Microsoft has also added several key features to the Zune PC software, including a unique Zune Card Sharing ability: subscribers to the $15 monthly Zune Pass can sync friends' Zune Cards to their computers and devices, letting them automatically download songs from the Marketplace as their friends play them. Non-Pass members can also use the feature but can buy them a-la-carte, the company explains.
Other additions include "auto playlists," a feature similar to iTunes' smart playlists that adds content to a playlist as the user's music collection changes; gapless playback for continuous-mix albums; more advanced music and video browsers, including the ability to edit metadata for tracks; album and artist reviews at the Marketplace; and integration with Windows Live that puts the currently playing track as a user's status.
Zune 2.5 is available as a free download today.