Interview with the Zune source

In May, after months of anticipation and rumors, Microsoft finally confirmed the existence of the Zune HD. The official confirmation was more or less a "let's get this out of the way for E3" move. Microsoft wanted to be sure the Xbox 360 and its Natal controller would be the star of the show.

Like all journalists, I tend to be wary of news tips from people I don't know. Such was the case when I was contacted way back in March by someone claiming to have inside info on upcoming Zune hardware. The tipster told me that the new Zune would be a full touch screen device. I thought this was interesting, so I passed it along on to Twitter much to the delight of my followers.

A few weeks later Engadget published the very first leaked photos of what has come to be known as the Zune HD. The first thing I did after reading the post was to IM my tipster for confirmation that it was indeed real.
His exact words to me were "Yes that is the Zune HD running on Tegra." At this time I had little-to-no idea what Tegra even was. So I dug a little deeper to find out that it was a new "system on a chip" solution from Nvidia that was capable of decoding high definition 720p video and presenting it via HDMI

It was soon after that Neowin partnered with LiveSide.net to bring the first reported specs for the Zune HD, most of which were later confirmed by Microsoft. Just last week, the Zune team confirmed that the ZHD (as I like to call it) would be using Tegra.

So to clear up any lagging questions about the Zune HD , I sat down with my source -- we'll call him "TK" -- to get him to answer a few more questions.

RR: What is your title at Microsoft?
TK: Software Engineer

RR: How long have you worked for Microsoft?
TK: 2 years.

RR: What kind of projects do you work on for Microsoft?
TK: Windows Kernel

RR: Why did you decide to talk about the Zune HD?
TK: Because I love Zune...It's just an all around better product then the iPod & I wanted it do better in the marketplace.

RR: Was it approved by execs higher up, or did you just go ahead without Microsoft approval?
TK: I went ahead without any approval from any of the higher ups.

RR: How did they react when they found out that you were passing info to the Zune community?
TK: I just said yes it is me & went right on giving the Zune community great insider news

RR: So they let you continue sharing news, I guess they liked what you were doing?
TK: There were mixed feelings from quite a few different people.

RR: Who where some of the higher ups that came to you asking Questions?
TK: Well I won't give any names but these people are very powerful

RR: But I guess they decide that the Zune need all the publicity it could get?
TK: Something along those lines.

RR: Do you think the Zune HD will be helped by what you have done?
TK: Yes, I do think so. Because the way I look at it now is that ... at this point that any news, is good news

RR: Do you think Microsoft now sees that giving the community up to date news is a great way to do things?
TK: Yes I do in a way.

RR: Do you think that a company being quiet about a new product is smart... with the Internet these days there are just about no keeping secrets.
TK: Well I think it can hurt or be good for a company; it's really about how high the profile the new product is.

RR: How do you think it will relate for the Zune HD?
TK: Well it is the best Zune Microsoft has ever made, so I think it will be a success in the marketplace.

RR: Do you think Microsoft has finally cracked the MP3 player market, with the ZHD?
TK: Yes I think with the right marketing, the Zune HD has the potential to sell 90% better then previous Zunes

RR: Will it pull people away from the iPod touch ecosystem?
TK: Yes I think that if Microsoft can get the word out, it will.

RR: What are you most looking forward to with the ZHD & Zune 4.0?
TK: Improved battery life, multi-touch and movies.

RR: Ah, so movies are coming to the marketplace at long last?
TK: The Zune team is working hard to get all the licensing agreements in order.

RR: Are they going to try and do it on their own or are they going to use a outside partner?
TK: A lot is in the works when it comes to getting movies on the marketplace but Microsoft is trying to strike a deal with all the big studios

RR: I'm assuming that it would include HD content, Because the HD is going be a awesome portable Video player with it having HDMI out and such.
TK: Yes sir

RR: What are the sizes of The Zune HD?
TK: 16GB and 32GB, Microsoft is considering adding a 64GB Zune later on in the model year

RR: When is Microsoft planning to ship the Zune HD?
TK: Early September

RR: How much is Zune HD projected to cost?
TK: The prices are not set in stone yet, but the 16GB will be somewhere in the range of $249 -$280

RR: You know what I am most excited about, Tegra, how do you feel about it?
TK: I think it's a great idea ... because Tegra brings to the table a lot of new stuff and I think it was a really smart idea on Microsoft's part to do this with the next-generation Zune.

RR: How has the Zune software changed?
TK: The Zune software has evolved to meet the needs of the Zune HD. it is also going to become much more a "center of entertainment" for the whole household. Microsoft also plans to have Zune interact with a variety of other Microsoft services.

RR: Thanks for taking time to chat with us.
TK: Thanks for having me.

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