It’s official. The Microsoft Zune Music players will go on sale in Canada on June 13th, 2008. Yesterday MS launched www.zune.ca where you can actually download the Zune software today. Unfortunately the Zune Music store (Zune Marketplace) will lag behind the launch of the player. You will still be able to add music to your player from ripped CDs, Itunes Plus purchases or Puretrack DRM free MP3 purchases.
As some people will know I have been using a Zune 80 since it’s launch in November. I also have a Zune 8GB player and the Altec Lansing Zune dock. I really like the Zune player and have been impressed with it’s capabilities.
In a related note, a new version of the software and firmware (2.5) for the Zune devices also was just released. The new release adds some user requested features such as gapless music playback, autoplaylists and for Marketplace users the ability to now buy TV shows. There appears to be a large assortment of NBC shows available for purchase, most notably "The Office" which is absent from the iTunes store. Also included in the update are the ability to browse and preview video by genre and additional community and social features such as the ability to share music plays with friends.
For my machine the software update went very smoothly and seemed to be much faster than previous updates. The software also seems to be much more responsive in navigation now. Switching between podcasts and music is very quick. Once the software is installed (it does require a reboot), you plug your Zune in and the firmware upgrade is presented. Again no problems upgrading both my 80 GB Zune and the 8 GB Zune. Both seem to sync faster as well.
In other reported news about the Zune. Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows www.winsupersite.com has confirmed that Audible support for the Zune is coming soon! This is the news that I have been waiting for as I currently have an iPod Touch to use for listening to my Audible audio books. HE indicates that he recieved an email from a reader that came from Audible indicating that is was true. After which Thurott himself received the same response as follows.
"I understand that you have contacted us today in regards to whether or not the Microsoft Zune is compatible with our service. We have great news! After much anticipation, Audible and Microsoft have completed negotiations on making the Zune AudibleReady! While we do not have an exact date as to when the device will be officially AudibleReady, we expect to make the Zune compatible before years end. Our Device Centre on our website will be updated upon the Zune becoming compatible, so please be sure to check there periodically."