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Microsoft adds 1-million DRM-free tracks to Zune Marketplace

Zune SoftwareMicrosoft announced some updates to its Zune media player lineup this week, with new smaller, flash memory based Zunes coming soon. But we're much more excited about the software updates.

Microsoft has revamped both the Zune firmware and the Zune Desktop software. Perhaps the most impressive thing is that if you've got a current generation Zune, you'll be able to upgrade your firmware to get all the new features. Really, that's shouldn't be so impressive, but considering Apple wants you to buy a new iPod every year, it does kind of make the Zune slightly more attractive than it had been.

So what's new?
  • The Zune Marketplace is adding over a million DRM-free MP3 tracks. This from the company that practically (but not really) invented DRM.
  • Podcasts and music videos are being added to the Zune Marketplace
  • You no longer have to listen to shared music within three days. But you can still only listen to a shared track three times before it self-destructs.
  • You can share videos and photos with other users, not just music
  • Support for additional codecs including h.264 and MPEG-4
  • Automatically import recorded TV shows from Windows MEdia Center
  • Microsoft is launching a social network called Zune Social
  • Microsoft is launching web widgets called Zune Cards that let other users see your music selections
  • You can share music that someone else shared with you
While Apple is busy pushing out iPod updates that make your (admittedly hacked) devices less useful, Microsoft is actually releasing updates that make the Zune better. Suddenly that brown media player doesn't look so silly, does it? Oh, right, Microsoft is killing the brown version.

Tags: firmware, marketplace, music, zune