Expect to finally hear Microsoft’s official word on the Zune digital media player and music service Thursday morning. Press briefings are being scheduled, and Microsoft isn’t being particularly secretive about it.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the Zune announcement is happening while dozens of tech journalists from around the world are in town for a Microsoft hardware launch event today and tomorrow. It would be a bonus for them to learn about more than new mice and keyboards.
Thursday is also the day that hallowed Wall Street Journal gadget reviewer Walt Mossberg’s column is published. It would be infuriating — but not suprising — if Microsoft has given Walt first crack at the Zune. He adores the iPod and Macs, so his take on the Zune will be pretty interesting.
Update: Here’s the press release:
REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 14, 2006 — Marking the next big milestone for its Connected Entertainment vision, Microsoft Corp. today unveiled details of the first products to be released under its Zune™ brand. Designed around the principles of sharing, discovery and community, Zune will create new ways for consumers to connect and share entertainment experiences….
Update 2: If Walt’s got a Zune, he didn’t write about it this week.
Instead he wrote about RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service, which is now bundled with the Sonos wireless home music system. The Sonos is one of the slickest devices for streaming music from a PC around the home, but a basic system starts at $749. Subscribing to Rhapsody costs $10 a month.
With it’s wireless connectivity, Zune may turn out to be a great alternative to the Sonos — or at least force Sonos to bring its prices down.