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Window Mobile 7 will contain Zune Softwares and Services

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Microsoft plans to port its Zune music playing software to Windows Mobile devices, according to CEO Steve Ballmer. Zune software and services may become part of the upcoming Windows Mobile 7 operating system, though the company provided no further information.

Confirmation of the long-rumored move came during a lengthy interview with the U.K. magazine CIO. Ballmer told interviewer Martin Veitch, "What you’ll see more and more over time is that the Zune software will also be ported to and be more important not just with the hardware but on the PC, on Windows Mobile devices, etc."

"At the end of the day, one of the big trends is that all content is going digital. And if we don’t have the software and services that are useful, helpful and valuable for the consumption of music and video, we are sort of not really a player," added Ballmer.

Zune integration with Windows Mobile will apparently be a software-only gambit. Microsoft has repeatedly denied plans to brand its own "Zune phone," which would compete with the hundreds of Windows Mobile phones already being shipped.

Background

Microsoft's Zune PMP (portable media player) was first introduced in 2006, and is currently available in the five different models pictured below. Previously, the software giant has sought to distance the Zune from Windows Mobile, even though the device employs an ARM processor and uses a core operating system based on Windows CE.

The Zune's GUI (graphical user interface), called the "twist" interface by Microsoft, features typical music and playlist features, radio playback, and a "social" section that allows sharing songs and other information with other Zune owners. Like Windows Mobile's existing Windows Media Player, the Zune can play typical audio/video formats such as MP3, WMA, WMV, MPEG-4, and H.264. To this, it adds compatibility with Microsoft's Zune Marketplace file format.

Via the Zune Marketplace online store, users can purchase songs individually, either by WiFI or by syncing with a desktop computer. Additionally, a "Zune Pass" permits downloading unlimited songs to a device for a $15 monthly fee. Finally, an interesting feature added to the latest Zune software release lets users tag a song being broadcast by an FM station for automatic later purchase, according to Microsoft.

In February, an entry on the Windows Mobile team's blog revealed that Microsoft is seeking ways to better integrate the Zune and Windows Mobile. Program manager Mel Sampat posted, "I'm wondering if there are any opportunities for us to improve the experience for people who use both devices. For example, viewing your Zune Social network in Internet Explorer Mobile, converting a Zune playlist into .WMA ringtones, [or] converting Zune's artwork to Windows Mobile themes."

However, Sampat added, "I'm certainly not hinting or speculating about a converged device," to the apparent frustration of many. For example, commenter Jef Kazimer wrote, "Windows Mobile needs to be the platform, and make Zune the ecosystem that runs on that platform. Make Zune the centerpiece for its core uses (Music, Video, Photos, Podcasts) and deprecate the Windows Media Player."

  
, 11:38 AM

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