Wow. The best deal in music just got a whole lot better, as Microsoft has announced that the $14.99 per month Zune Pass will now allow subscribers to download and keep 10 tracks per month, which is a $10 value. Those tracks are yours, permanently, even if your Zune Pass subscription comes to an end. Participating labels include EMI Music, Sony BMG, Universal Music, Warner Music, and independents like INgrooves, Independent Online Distribution Alliance, and The Orchard. Tracks downloaded from Sony BMG and UMG will be DRM-free MP3s, which tracks from EMI and Warner also include MP3 files, there are also some WMAs still hanging around. The Zune guys say that soon, 90 percent of the music in the Zune Marketplace will be in the MP3 format.
So when you break this down, if you subscribe to the Zune Pass, and download 10 tracks a month, you are really just paying $5 for unlimited access to the huge catalog of music available in the Zune Marketplace. We can’t think of a better, legal deal in music than what Microsoft is offering with Zune right now. Can you? At this point, we see no reason to fire up iTunes to do our music purchasing.
Just two months after the Zune 3.0 release, Microsoft is now deploying the next incremental update to their Zune platform with Zune 3.1. Available for download today, the Zune 3.1 update brings quite a few welcome feature changes and updates:
- New Games: Checkers, Sudoku, and Space Battle
- New multiplayer mode, and single-player difficulty levels, for Texas Hold’em
- Visual changes to the Zune Social, making it prettier and easier to navigate
- Like-Minder Listeners feature added to social, allowing you to compare your music tastes to others
- Improved play count reporting, content synchronization, and other bug fixes in both the hardware and software
You can grab the update now by launching your Zune software, going into Settings, and hitting Check for Updates.
Read More | Zune Insider
There are those who love to hate the software giant, but the Seattle-area economy has nothing to offer but gratitude – in King County, which includes Seattle and Microsoft hometown, Redmond, there are some 70,000 households with a net-worth of at least $1 million. My dentist once told me that his two brothers, who went to Microsoft while he went to dental school, both retired at the age of 36; he is well past 36 and definitely not retired. Some people have all the luck…
In honor of Windows’ anniversary, we’ve posted a video (up top) of current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doing his best cheesy car salesman impersonation in this ridiculous Windows commercial from the 80’s; proving that dignity is not always a prerequisite for success.
It seems that every time we turn around, Zune has a new design. This time it is their Zodiac Series. Custom laser engraved, there are all 12 from the Western Zodiac from MS graphic designers and all of the animals from the Chinese years, which were designed by Iosefatu Sua. Choose your Zune, pick your etching for a little extra coinage, and you will also get access to matching wallpaper and playlists chosen by the artists.
Read More | electronistic
With Gears of War 2 getting ready to drop tomorrow, bringing Submergence Day to all fans of the franchise, Microsoft is also releasing a Gears of War 2 Limited Edition Zune. You might remember that they did something similar with the original Zune to coincide with the release of Halo 3. With the GOW2 Zune, Microsoft has pre-loaded a bunch of Gears content on the device itself. A bunch of images of art, the entire Gears of War soundtrack, along with quite a few pieces of video content related to both Gears of War and Gears of War 2.
We were able to get our hands on the Gears of War 2 Zune before its release, and have snapped a bunch of photos showing off the fantastic box art, the Zune device itself, and all the bonus content included on the device. Be sure and check it all out in our Gears of War 2 Zune unboxing gallery.
Read More | Gears of War 2 Zune gallery
Microsoft, in a clever move, located an “I’m a PC” recording kiosk outside an Apple Store in Birmingham, England. By the way, if you really are a PC, you can upload a photo or video online and you might find yourself in one of their commercials. The company has already selected several of them in ads that are airing on network TV and are part of a $300 million advertising campaign. We’re all for any idea that doesn’t feature Gates and Seinfeld.
Read More | Apple Insider
Netflix has been busy, busy, busy. We already knew that Netflix will be available for Macs by the end of the year and on Xbox Live for Gold members next month, and now they have announced that they are adding TiVo as a partner that already includes LG, Microsoft and Samsung. You will be able to receive movies on your TiVo Series3, TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL. Testing has already begun and the service should be available to all by December.
Read More | New TeeVee
We know a lot of you Xbox 360 owners are counting down the days to November 19th, which is the day that everyone will be able to download the New Xbox Experience dashboard update. Until then, we figured we’d give you a nice, full walkthrough of the update and its interface. Our friends up in Redmond were able to send the update to one of our two Xbox 360 consoles, which in turn, allows us to bring you this exclusive first-look walkthrough.
We show you everything, from the boot-up video, the new HDTV display output options, Xbox avatars, Netflix, and a whole lot more. Our early thoughts? We love it. In fact, we love it so much, that we now hate our second Xbox 360, which still has the old, busted blade interface. We want NXE on that one as well.
One thing we mentioned in the video that we need to clarify, though. As it turns out, Netflix HD streaming should be available on other Netflix-enabled hardware devices on November 19th as well, as opposed to HD streaming being exclusive to the Xbox 360 at first.
Oh, and be sure to check our New Xbox Experience gallery if you wanna see some screenshots in addition to the video - and if you have any NXE questions about anything we didn’t cover, or didn’t delve into enough, let us know on the forum.
So, you know that nifty New Xbox Experience you’ve been hearing about all over the place? Well, our pals up in Redmond gave us the opportunity to grab the dashboard a few weeks before it becomes publicly available on November 19th. We have a bunch of info coming your way in the coming days (and, please, feel free to leave any questions on the forum and we will answer them all - seriously, ask away!). In the meantime, though, we thought we would take you through the setup process. After downloading the update (which takes a good, I dunno, 10 seconds), your Xbox 360 will reboot, load the new firmware, and hit you with a high impact video before dumping you into the new dashboard. It really is all sorts of fancy. We’ve created a New Xbox Experience setup gallery with a bunch of pictures showing you the process of installing, setting up, creating your avatar, and browsing around the new interface. Go ahead and take a look, and don’t forget, leave your questions here.
Read More | New Xbox Experience Gallery
A new Xbox Live pack is coming to the US next week on November 4th. The pack is mainly for those who don’t yet have a hard drive on their Xbox 360, but is a decent upgrade if you have the original 20GB hard drive, and are in need of more space. The $99 bundle includes a 60GB hard drive, Xbox Live headset, and 3-months of Xbox Live Gold. The upgrade comes just weeks before the new Xbox Live Experience dashboard upgrade on November 19th. The hard drive should allow much more storage if you plan to use the Netflix subscription service on your 360 and want to store all of your media which also debut’s on the 19th. There is also a $30 upgrade option for the 20GB hard drive being offered due to the New Xbox Experience requirements which will not work if you lack a hard drive.
Read More | Gamestop
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