The Zune HD has been given a firmware update, moving it from V4.1 to 4.3. We were not-so-secretly hoping the first update (or second, if you're counting the initial one on launch) would enable a hidden 3D World-band phone inside, Bluetooth and a speakerphone. But that's just us being a little crazy.
Instead, here's the official line, as cribbed from the Zune forums:
Zune HD firmware update: Today we released the v4.3 firmware update for Zune HD players; this update adds support for upcoming 3d games and applications, as well as an auto-suggest feature for better text input, and other minor improvements. Enjoy!
And digging through the forums, we're also seeing:
Much-improved Web browsing, both in speed and rendering. You can toggle between desktop and mobile. And there's now a landscape keyboard. (Huzzah)
New display settings for video out. You can choose HDMI Auto, 720p or 480p in addition to compositie video.
Get the update by connecting your Zune, then going to Settings>Device>Player Update. And after the break, instructions for those with 16GB Zune HD's who may not be seeing the update
That's one of the bigger questions when it comes to the future of Windows Mobile. Some of us around here *cough* have made it no secret that the software on the Zune HD would fit just fine on a Windows phone. Will that happen?
Let's start with the above video from CNet [via pocketnow] with Ina Fried and Molly Wood interviewing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The talk runs the gamut of Windows 7 to netbooks to tablets to mobile.
"It's all about shipping good product," he says, going on to trumpet Windows Mobile 6.5 (which, after all, was why he was there).
There's more of the party line about Windows Mobile 6.5, but then he gets down to brass tacks.
What is Zune HD? Zune HD is a couple things. Number one, Zune HD is a music player with a nice music service. By the way, the same software will be available on Windows Phones and Windows PCs. You have that today on the PC, you'll see that in our phone environment as well.
But, he adds, "It's not our plan to make a phone out of that (Zune HD) hardware."
Then there's ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, who spoke with Jose Pinero, Director of Communications for Microsoft’s TV, Video and Music Business on Tuesday at Microsoft's Open House in New York City.
“Our next step is mobile phones, but we haven’t talked about a timeline for when that will happen,” he said.
Pinero said Microsoft’s more immediate priorities are to get Zune music and Video services on the Xbox. Microsoft officials said earlier this year that Microsoft plans to make the Zune video marketplace available as part of Xbox Live this fall.
Take that however you want, but if Microsoft does the right thing, we'll see it as a major part of Windows Mobile 7.
It hasn't been a big secret that Microsoft has been trying to woo iPhone developers to its own platforms. We've already seen them doing so with Windows Mobile. Now we're seeing it happen with the Zune HD.
But just how easy is it to port an app? Try 12 hours, as seen with Wordmonger in the video above.
Written in C# with OpenGL for the iPhone and ported with XNA Game Studio 3.1 for the Zune HD, the video above shows Wordmonger running on both devices. Of course, one major drawback to the Zune HD is a that it doesn't have a speaker, which is a big turn-off if you don't want to wear headphones for casual gaming. (Count me in that crowd.) Look for Wordmonger on the iPhone by Thanksgiving. No word on an actual Zune launch.
But either way, this is a sure sign that the Zune HD can and will run third-party apps — just as soon as Microsoft allows.
So I'm a few hours into the Zune HD. It's my first foray into the Zune ecosystem, so I have a bit of a learning curve, and bear with me. But without giving away the farm, I'll say this: If this is the direction in which Windows Mobile is moving, we all have much to look forward to. There are going to be endless comparisons of the Zune HD to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and we'll certainly add our share. But, for now, it all comes down to this:
The Zune HD and iPhone/iPod Touch are different devices, with different purposes.
Anyhoo, that's not really why we're here. We want to look at the Zune HD from the Windows Mobile perspective and see what bits and pieces we might see in Windows Mobile 7 and beyond. Join us after the break for our initial hands-on and a very quick look at the new desktop software.
Today's the day, folks. The Zune HD has been released. A new interface, strong hardware and high expectations. Oh, and the strong assumption that we'll see a strong Zune UI influence in Windows Mobile 7. (We're already seeing some in WinMo 6.5, namely in the home-screen interface.)
For our part, we'll take a look at the Zune HD and see what's what. Anything you want to see in particular? Let us know in the comments.
Oh, and I'll be joining the boys and girls on iPhone Live at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, where we'll give the Zune HD and iPod Touch the what-for. Be sure to get a seat the chat room early; we're expecting sparks to fly.
We're pretty sure there's a Windows Mobile 6.5.1 waiting in the wings. We've seen but can't share (yeah, that's not fair, but them's the breaks) early — repeat: as in some time ago — screen shots of the purported build. The leaked ROMs we've seen recently (Exhibits A and B) appear headed in that direction but actually aren't quite there yet.
We're expecting the as yet still unannounced Windows Mobile 7 early next year, and it (hopefully) will be more along the lines of what we're seeing on the Zune HD than what we're used to on our current (and even upcoming) devices.
Now, fast-forward to the present, specifically the latest from Digitimes. They're giving an Oct. 1 date to the 6.5 "release" - quotation marks ours because you're probably not going to be able get a carrier-sanctioned upgrade at midnight or anything. Windows Mobile is still Windows Mobile, and carriers is carriers.
Digitimes also reports Microsoft plans "an upgrade version with a touch interface in February 2010, the sources indicated citing Microsoft roadmap." That's also right in line with what we've heard (but admittedly have have not second-sourced) regarding Windows Mobile 6.5.1. What phones will get 6.5.1? We're hearing the HTC Touch Pro 2 and Touch Diamond 2 — specifically the AT&T versions, which would lend credence to recent musings by Engadget that we'll finally see the keyboardless phone on the same network at the iPhone.
Then there's Windows Mobile 7, which Digitimes says will co-exist alongside Windows Mobile 6.5 when it's launched sometime in Q4 of 2010. As in, more than a year from now. The idea, Digitimes says, is to take on Android from the 6.5 front and the iPhone from Windows Mobile 7. (Sorry, Android. You get the second string offense, apparently.)
Now, we're among the first to take news from Digitimes with a big 'ol helping of salt. So what should you take out of this?
If you're not stoked about Windows Mobile 6.5, that's cool. We're pretty sure bigger things are in the works, starting with Windows Mobile 6.5.1, and really getting going with Windows Mobile 7. Look no further than the Zune HD for evidence of what Microsoft is capable of.
It's going to require some more ... what's that word? ... Patience.
Specifically, the Tegra provides the Zune HD with eight independent processors, each designed for a specific class of tasks - among them are an HD video processor, an audio processor, a graphics processor, and two ARM cores. Furthermore, the processors can work together or independently to minimize power consumption.
The press release goes on to say that Nvidia has no fewer than "50 active Tegra processor-based design projects currently in the works today," which is a heck of a lot, if you ask us.
Here are 371 seconds of the Zune HD and its gorgeous Tegra-powered OLED screen, showing off the spectacular UI improvements. [Techflash via wmpoweruser]
And speaking of the Zune HD, it's now available for pre-order ahead of the Sept. 15 launch. The 16-gigabyte model runs $220, and the $290 will buy you 32 gigs.
That not enough? It also appears that Microsoft plans for honest-to-goodness apps on the Zune. Our pals at The iPhone Blog point us to a Daring Fireball piece that alleges Microsoft offered "a bucket of money" to the developer of an iPhone Twitter client to port the app over to the Zune. (We hope it's Tweetie.) We agree with our pal Rene Ritchie in that we're going to need to see a public SDK before we take any Zune app talk seriously. But with the expectation that Windows Mobile 7 will share Zune code, it may just be a matter of "when," not "if."
Still want more? How about a very intelligent read from GDGT's Peter Rojas, who calls on Microsoft to bring Zune support to the Mac, which we're fully behind. Microsoft is so close to launching a near-total winner of a product (minus a few niggles, capacity being one). Zune software for the Mac is a no-brainer at this point.
Pink has an ad rep in the form of McCann Erickson, which also handles advertising for Windows Mobile. (Or not, depending on your view of things.)
Pink will be based on Windows Mobile 7 but won't look like the Windows Mobile 7 most of us are expecting.
Windows Mobile 7 should ship to OEMs about the time that WinMo 6.5 phones go to market. (We've seen that leaked and heard it from other sources, too.)
Pink's starting to sound somewhat like a tangential device, a la the Sidekick, and may have elements of the Zune, My Phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile all wrapped into it. Motorola and Sharp have been rumored as manufacturers.
As for our take? Pink is still a genius codename in that we sound ridiculous repeating it over and over. Oh, and that whole Sidekick-esque thing could well be a pretty good bet. If it's given the proper UI (and WM7 for the rest of us better have one, too), and Microsoft throws some smart marketing behind it (and they seem to be doing OK with Bing), then Pink could well have a good shot at gobbling up some market share.
Obviously, watching this video from Engadget of the interface and OLED touchscreen of the Zune HD won't do it justice. But it's as close as we're gonna get till September, which it is rumored to launch. And it's still pretty darn good. And for any of you haters who don't believe Microsoft is capable of designing a compelling UI, well, let's just hope at least some of this makes it into Windows Mobile 7.
See here! We're very much looking forward to the latest from HTC finally hitting the states. And that Samsung Omnia Pro and its even better specs is looking mighty yummy, too. But what we really want is some Snapdragon — and some Tegra.
And that brings us to the Zune HD, which was rumored to be housing said NVIDIA Tegra processor. And PC Perspective [via Engadget] is confirming that rumor. Basically, you're getting CPU, GPU and every other -PU you can think of on one chip. And it's a low-power chip at that, which means better battery life. And Endaget's right in that us Windows Mobile fans should feel a little put out if the Zune HD in fact does have that much power under its hood while we continue to chug away with more "standard" processors.
We've said it before and we'll say it again. Aside from the lack of a phone and a bizarre screen resolution (albeit an OLED screen), the Zune HD looks like it'll have a lot of what we've been wanting for a long, long time. And a lot of what we expect to see when Windows Mobile 7 finally makes it to market.
Still not impressed? Peep the demo video after the break and tell us you don't want a Tegra chip in your phone.
There are only three hardware buttons — a rocker for volume, a power button and a home button.
The browser is a "flavor" of Internet Explorer 6, but it won't look or feel like IE. Definitely not a bad thing.
The first flood of Xbox integration will surround video. Music will follow later.
More over at Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows, and we've got a brief video shot by Gizmodo after the break. Yes, you'll see a big fat link to "Marketplace" in the Zune HD's UI, but we're betting that's going to be for the Zune Marketplace, not Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Calm down, folks.
Do remember (and we have a feeling we'll be repeating this for a while) that while we expect the Zune and Windows Mobile to share some features in upcoming versions, we don't yet know for sure what they are. That's why we'll be keeping a closer eye on our phone-less cousins from now on.
Update: Cnet's Ina Fried got a less-blurry hands-on. Video of that, too, after the break.