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New Microsoft Zune Portable MP3 Players Released

Microsoft partners with 18 renowned artists to fuse high style with portable entertainment.

Consumers ready for a richer, more connected and more personal entertainment experience will have the first opportunity to get their hands on sleek new Zune players, redesigned

Zune software, and new online services including the Zune Marketplace and Zune Social, an online music community. The players — along with dozens of accessories — will be available at retailers across the United States, while the new Zune software will be available for free download at http://www.zune.net.

For the first time, consumers also will have the option to customize their Zune player with laser-engraved designs and personal text through a new Web store called Zune Originals. Customers will be able to purchase a Zune player directly from Microsoft at http://www.zuneoriginals.net and choose from a collection of laser-engraved artwork designed exclusively for Zune by 18 internationally recognized artists.

“We’re bringing the entire category to the next level by empowering consumers to play a role in redefining the digital music experience,” said J Allard, corporate vice president for Zune. “Zune brings music discovery and acquisition into one simple, end-to-end solution, and the addition of unique customization options puts the originality back into portable entertainment.”

Zune Originals Gives Consumers a New Canvas
Consumers no longer need to settle for the same portable media player as everybody else. The new Zune Originals online store will let people make a unique statement by customizing their Zune with laser-engraved art or personal text. Zune worked with 18 accomplished artists from all over the world to create a collection of 27 different designs, called the Artist Series, which will be available exclusively through Zune Originals. In addition to the Artist Series, a separate Tattoo Series will feature 20 graphics that consumers can have laser-engraved on their Zune with up to three lines of text. Alternatively, people can choose to engrave up to five lines of text in place of a design. On the Zune Originals Web site, customers can choose their Zune (Zune 80GB, Zune 8GB or Zune 4GB), pick a color and then select a design and their desired text.

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The Zune Originals Artist Series will launch with designs from artists Colletivo Studios, Catalina Estrada, Laurent Fetis, Sam Flores, Klaus Haapaniemi, Pierre Marie, Kenzo Minami, Parskid, Mike Perry, Phunk Studios, Chisato Shinya, Skwak, Iosefatu Sua, Tado, Nobumasa Takahashi, Ramiro Torres, Darvin Vida and Steve Wilson.

“I’m always interested in the way art can merge with technology to create a new dialogue,” Estrada said. “My work has been shown in different venues all over the world, but Zune represents a brand-new canvas for me to display my ideas.”

Zune Entertainment Experience Expands
Together with the original Zune 30GB, the new models and customization options make it easier for consumers to find the size, color, design and price that best suits them. Three new Zune models will be on store shelves tomorrow: the black Zune 80GB, which has a bright 3.2-inch screen and comes with premium in-ear noise-isolating headphones (ERP $249.99), and the slim, ultra-portable Zune 4GB (ERP $149.99) and the Zune 8GB (ERP $199.99), both available in pink, green, black and red. The new Zune models also feature the new Zune Pad, a touch-sensitive navigation button that lets people fly through menus or lists with the flick of their thumb, or click to easily change songs or adjust the volume. Every Zune player includes wireless sync and wireless sharing, a built-in FM tuner, and a bright color screen to display music, pictures, videos and podcasts. Existing Zune owners will receive all new software features via a free and easy upgrade, available Nov 13.

The updated design of the new Zune players is complemented by smart new software and a dramatic new look and feel for Zune Marketplace. The new Zune software takes digital music to a new level of simplicity, while connecting consumers to a richer, more interactive entertainment experience through Zune Marketplace and the new Zune Social online music community. Zune is set apart from its competitors by having all the following features:

  • Wireless sync. Consumers can set their Zune to automatically sync to their PC collection via a home wireless network whenever it’s placed in its dock or plugged in to charge, making it easy to keep the Zune updated with the latest music or podcasts. Consumers can also manually start a wireless sync from their device as soon as they are within range of their wireless network.
  • Wireless sharing. Share select music, pictures and audio podcasts with other Zune devices nearby. Consumers can listen to any received song up to three times and even pass it along to other friends with a Zune.
  • Redesigned Zune software. Easily drag and drop music, videos and photos to simple icons to sync content to a Zune, create playlists or burn CDs. A new search feature gives consumers one master view across music, videos and podcasts. Search for an artist to find all relevant content — what’s already in a consumer’s collection and what’s available in Zune Marketplace.
  • Zune Social. Consumers can find music they like by seeing what other like-minded individuals are listening to. People can create customizable Zune Cards, which update automatically based on the music they listen to on their Zune and via the Zune software on their PC. See what friends are listening to, play samples of music directly from others’ Zune Cards, send song recommendations or browse artist pages. When consumers find something they like, they can link directly to Zune Marketplace to buy it.
  • Updated Zune Marketplace. The new Zune Marketplace is designed to make it fun to browse. Choose from over 3 million songs and a broad collection of albums, music videos, podcasts, and digital rights management (DRM)-free MP3s to download and sync to a Zune.
  • Zune Pass. For about the price of one CD per month ($14.99 per month), consumers can get flat-rate access to millions of available songs. They also have the option to buy songs, albums and music videos individually.
  • Recorded television content to go. The Zune software will now import broadcast content recorded on Microsoft Windows Media Center for Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate, so consumers can sync it to their Zune.
  • FM tuner. Consumers can tune into their favorite FM radio stations on the go. Zune will even display the name of the song and the artist, using Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS) information from stations that broadcast it.

About Zune
Zune is Microsoft’s music and entertainment brand that provides an integrated digital entertainment experience. The Zune platform includes a line of portable digital media players, the Zune Marketplace online store, and Zune Social, created to help people discover music. Zune is part of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division and supports the company’s software-based services vision to help drive innovation in the digital entertainment space.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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