What is "FM"?  All kidding aside – well most anyway…Microsoft preempted Apple’s Tuesday iPod launch with a little launch of their own.  The new Zunes are officially announced with some interesting new features.

First up is wireless syncing over WiFi.  Not a bad trick actually.  This is an area Apple could take from Microsoft (and they might already have by later Tuesday).  We’ve yet to see it work properly so we’ll reserve judgment for a bit later.  Zune owners can currently buy tunes one at a time, or pay $15 per month for a Zune Pass subscription, which gives access to every song in the catalog – something that Apple is also rumored to be exploring. With the new wireless features, Zune Pass holders will also be able to stream songs to their devices.

The second big feature is the ability to buy tracks directly from FM radio stations.  Another good concept, at least on the surface…   the only problem is that only 450 radio stations in the US are currently participating.   Again, implementation and execution seem like a stretch.


They are both ready for delivery soon…

Starting Sept. 16, Microsoft says, the new Zunes will be available in configurations and prices ranging from $249.99 for a 120-gigabyte model to $129.99 for a 4-gigabyte version.  You would know that if you had seen one accidentally on put on sale at Fry’s over the weekend.

The Zune is still a small fry.   Since its launch two years ago, Microsoft has sold 2.5 million units of the device.
Apple, meanwhile, sold 11 million iPods in its fiscal third quarter and many more built into its wildly popular iPhone.

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