Zune Marketplace to keep your Zune player stocked

The iPod had to move over (even if only a little today), and now it's turn for iTunes to move as well. Zune's software is, of course, called Zune, and it encompasses everything you'd expect from your standard single-shot media player, download, and management console. You've got the usual: genre exploration, top songs, albums, artists, new releases, featured stuff; they're definitely on the indie bend with this one, no doubt about it. The media manager will also handle photos, though, which is certainly a nice addition (and one less iApp for Microsoft to compete with). Microsoft's Zune Marketplace store will have a library of "millions of songs" in "many popular formats" (no word on what) will also, naturally, accept Microsoft Points so you can purchase without the use of a credit card. The Zune software will be able to import both iTunes and Windows Media Player files, but, of course, you won't be able to play those files that you already plunked a few dollars for from the iTunes Store (at least not yet). The Zune player itself comes with songs pre-loaded from various labels including DTS, EMI Music's Astralwerks Records, Virgin Records and others, but once you're bored of the standard stuff, you can wirelessly share songs, playlists or pictures between you and your friend's Zune. Shared songs can be fully played up to three times over three days and then can be flagged for purchase direct from the online store, but we still don't have prices yet. Microsoft is also bringing some all-you-can-eat love with a Zune Pass subscription, available a flat rate (again, we don't know how much) -- we're hungry to take it for a spin.

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