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What is Zune?

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Zune is an entertainment platform and portable media player made by Microsoft. The Zune entertainment software platform and supporting products designed and marketed by Microsoft include the Zune Software, the video component of Xbox 360, Zune devices, Microsoft Kin Phones, Windows Phone 7 Devices, and the Zune website. The Zune Marketplace offers music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, and music videos. The Zune Social is a service integrated with Xbox Live that allows users to manage friends, send messages, and compare music.

Each user has a personal Zune Tag, which corresponds with their Xbox Live Gamer Tag if they have one. The Zune software is used to manage the Zune, and runs exclusively on Windows. It can rip CDs, manage music and access Zune Marketplace. Purchasing media through Zune requires Microsoft Points, but a subscription model, Zune Pass, is also available. Zune Pass is a subscription music service that allows the user to temporarily download an unlimited number of songs for the length of the Zune Pass subscription, as well as permanently keep up to 10 tracks per month.

Zune's distinguishing features are HD radio (on the Zune HD model only), the Zune Pass subscription model, its multi-platform nature, and the Zune Social. FM radio is available on all Zune devices. The FM radio features RBDS, which displays Artists and Song Titles in conventional FM radio broadcasts. Subject to restrictions, files can be shared wirelessly between Zune devices. Zune's primary competitor is the Apple iPod product line.

Zune HD:

The Zune HD is a portable media player in the Zune product family released on September 15, 2009 by Microsoft. It was initially released in 16 and 32 GB capacities. A 64 GB version utilizes a touchscreen interface for navigation and includes Wi-Fi for synchronization, access to the Zune Marketplace and Web browsing.

The Zune HD utilizes the Nvidia Tegra APX 2600 chip, allowing it to play 720p video through the optional HDMI Zune dock on a high-definition television. Otherwise, content will be scaled down to 480x272 pixels on the player's OLED screen.

Zune Technical specifications

The operating system for the Zune devices is based on the Windows CE kernel for ARM architecture and uses a distribution similar to the Portable Media Center. Zune's native file compatible formats are:

WMV (Used by Zune Marketplace)
MPEG-4 - supported on all models except the Zune 30 device
H.264 - supported on all models except the Zune 30 device
Avi video (Xvid) support is included on the Zune HD (firmware versions 4.5 and later).
MP3 (used by Zune Marketplace)
AAC (unprotected)
.m4a (audio)
WMA Pro (2-channel)
WMA Standard (used by Zune Marketplace)
WMA lossless

According to Microsoft, the most current firmware version is 4.5 for the Zune HD, which replaces the original player firmware that ships on the device, 4.0. In the case of the Zune 4, 8, 16, 30, 80, and 120 players the most current player software version is 3.3, which provides compatibility with Zune 4.2. Version 3.3 was primarily a bug fix release and was released on January 26, 2010.

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