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Microsoft confirms Zune products

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Following months of rumors and speculation, Microsoft has finally confirmed the existence of its “Zune” project, which will spawn products to compete with the iPod and iTunes head-on.

Microsoft executives said today that the company will later this year launch the Zune umbrella brand, which it calls “a family of hardware and software products” targeting various digital entertainment services. As expected, the first Zune offerings will be a portable audio player and a digital music service, both of which will be released before the end of 2006. Microsoft said additional Zune-branded devices will follow, including a portable video player and possibly a portable gaming device. The company also confirmed the rumored Wi-Fi connectivity features.

Microsoft has also launched a new “Coming Zune” website and a new “Zune Insider” blog. The company said it will support the Zune launch later this year with a “massive advertising and marketing campaign expected to be heavily artist-centric, including several live performances nationwide.”

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