Zune Launches Stateside

But how long will the wait be for Europe?

Microsoft is officially into the MP3 player market now after the Zune enjoyed its first full day of sales yesterday in the US.

Costing $250 and matching the iPod’s 30GB entry level capacity it is clear that Microsoft is going straight for Apple’s golden child though if industry reaction is anything to go by it appears Steve Jobs won’t have too much to fear from the first generation.

While the player may have a larger 3in screen, boast wireless capabilities and an FM tuner Stateside journos are already pointing out that the Zune’s software isn’t up to snuff and its wireless capabilities are overly restrictive (shared files – even those without DRM – automatically delete after three days). In addition the wireless functionality only works Zune to Zune, not PC/laptop to Zune – a real opportunity missed.

Microsoft is also causing waves by not making the Zune compatible with its own PlayForSure copy protection (quite remarkable really) and instead going with an entirely new code for its ‘Zune Marketplace’ which leaves users of Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo, MovieLink and Cinemanow unexpectedly up a well known creek without the required manual propulsion tool.

Still, on the upside, the interface – though not touch sensitive – is said to be straightforward and the menu system intuitive. Non DRMed tracks can also be directly imported from iTunes with the tags and ratings intact.

In all the Zune appears to be a decent, if not earth-shattering, first attempt and while Apple’s dominance is unlikely to be threatened in the immediate future Microsoft has immense marketing and R&D resources; something Sony can testify to…

As for when we’ll finally get the chance to grope a Zune with our own limey hands, the answer remains as clear as mud.


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