The next generation of Zune was launched earlier this week. This release combines two very important things:

v  A free software-and-services update, which will work on any of the existing Zune family of devices, as well as the new devices we are bringing to market to round out our hardware family.

v  Key new hardware device options, including new capacities, new colors, and new prices.

Some of the cool features that deliver on this idea and which are AVAILABLE NOW include:

v  Buy From FM: Every Zune comes with an FM radio – and now you can use FM broadcasts to discover new songs for your music collection. Using RDS and RT+ data feeds from thousands of radio stations around the country, you can see song information while you are listening and tag the song for download the next time you sync your Zune.

v  Channels: Channels are an exciting new tool for music discovery – like a “radio station” that automatically syncs to your device so it’s available for listening offline. You can subscribe to channels programmed by experts from the music industry (eg., the Billboard Top 100, FADER magazine and KEXP radio playlists) or choose top “chart-channels” from all genres and sub-genres in our marketplace. Zune’s powerful software-service will even create custom channels for you, based on your favorite artists and genres.· Wireless streaming and download from the cloud. Taking our wireless functionality to the next level, you can now connect your Zune device directly to the marketplace over your home network or any one of tens-of-thousands of wifi hotspots across the country—including around 9,800 McDonalds restaurants. Access new releases, top tracks and albums, or search for an artist or track. And when you find it, you can not only download it directly but with the Zune Pass subscription stream it directly to your Zune.

v  Personal Picks: When you browse to Zune Marketplace, you’ll find a new area called ‘Picks’ where Zune’s recommendation algorithm will suggest artists, albums and tracks based on the music you have been listening to, as well as offer channels created explicitly for you and a list of listeners-like-you from the Zune Social.

v  PC Software that’s Powerful and Fun To Use: The Zune PC software is simply one of the best media and entertainment experiences you can have on Windows. It provides rich discovery and media management capabilities to make the most of your existing music collection, in addition to providing access to the Zune Social and Zune Marketplace.

Ø  Mixview: Select an artist, album or Zune Card to activate a dynamic, visual mosaic of related music and listeners (screenshot below at left). With each click users can take the view in a new direction, creating a fun, graphical way to discover new music. Mixview works with users’ current collection of music, in addition to tracks and albums from across the Zune Marketplace.

Ø  Now Playing: The improved “Now Playing” view is more interactive and cinematic. Just sit back and enjoy our combination of great artist imagery, colorful effects, bio information and data from the Zune online music community… all combined in a full screen view. At anytime you can click to dive deeper into the music behind the picture; providing another great way to interact with your collection.

Zune now also supports Games and Audiobooks on devices.

New hardware was introduced too:

v  a stunning blue 8 GB device,

v  a new 16 GB glossy black with a black metal back, and…

v  a 120 GB black-on-black that round out the hardware selection nicely.

Visit www.zuneoriginals.net where there are even more colors available and where you can customize a Zune just for you.