Zune 3.1 released, Zune now cheaper than iPod

Microsoft has released firmware version 3.1 for all models of their Zune MP3 players.

The 3.1 update adds three new games: Checkers, Sudoku and Space Battle. A new multi player mode for the existing Texas Hold 'Em card game has also been added. The multi player mode uses the Zune's Wi-Fi, letting players connect to each others Zunes. The new Checkers game also supports multi player.

The Zune Social online community was refreshed with a little UI visual action and a new feature called "like minded listeners," was added. The feature allows you to see the Zune cards of those with compatible music tastes.

The Zune PC software received an update too which includes software stability patches and performance improvements. To download the free Zune software and firmware update, open up the Zune PC software, click on Settings, and select Check for Updates.

Separately, Microsoft also announced price cuts for the Zune range. In an interview with Cnet, Zune marketing director Adam Sohn said moves were being made to "ensure hopefully we have a good holiday season." The prices put Zune's flash players cheaper than Apple's iPod Nano range.

The prices are as follows:

  • Zune 4GB: from $129 to $99, a saving of $20
  • Zune 8GB: from $149 to $139, a saving of $10
  • Zune 16GB: from $199 to $179, a saving of $20
Screenshots of the new Zune games Soduku, Space Battle and Checkers can be found below:

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I just downloaded the new Zune software on my PC and I immediately noticed a small bit of performance gain in media discovery (folder watch). Haven't played the new games yet, but they look fun from the screen shots.

Just because the Zune doesn't sell as much as the iPod, doesn't mean it's the inferior product. In fact, I'd argue the Zune is the superior product.

The problem is consumer education and marketing. The majority of people are sheep: uneducated and slaves to a couple colourful ads with a dancing silhouette bearing white earbuds. This is especially true in certain places, like on my university campus: most people here have iBooks, iPods, and iPhones as accessories to their iLife. It's ironic they can't think individually despite claiming to be so iDifferent with their iProducts.

Ask them how they can stand to play WoW on their iBook at 20FPS on medium settings, and they go "what's FPS?". Comment on the lack of an FM tuner on their iPod, and they go "people still use radio?". The list goes on.

The Zune competes with the iPod Classic and the rest of the non-iPod market. It can't compete with the iPod Touch. Because it IS an inferior product, unless you compare it to the iPod Classic, which itself has already been outclassed by other products by Apple. The iPod Touch is currently the highest iteration of the mp3 player. Which has already been trumped by the iPhone! We're moving to a one-device-does-it-all situation very soon. The mp3 player specifically will soon be obsolete anyway. Your device will need to be able to do it all to stay competitive.

People still use radio?? Radio apps are available by the dozens - some of them free, on the App Store.

If MS came out with an exact counterpart to the iPod Touch, matching it feature for feature, you'd go for it in a heartbeat.

LTD said,
The Zune competes with the iPod Classic and the rest of the non-iPod market. It can't compete with the iPod Touch. Because it IS an inferior product, unless you compare it to the iPod Classic, which itself has already been outclassed by other products by Apple. The iPod Touch is currently the highest iteration of the mp3 player. Which has already been trumped by the iPhone! We're moving to a one-device-does-it-all situation very soon. The mp3 player specifically will soon be obsolete anyway. Your device will need to be able to do it all to stay competitive.

People still use radio?? Radio apps are available by the dozens - some of them free, on the App Store.

If MS came out with an exact counterpart to the iPod Touch, matching it feature for feature, you'd go for it in a heartbeat.


So you're equating me with a MS fanboy? I barely know you but judging from your posts in this thread, including this one, I can tell you're very arrogant, if not bordering on pompous (i.e. Apple products suit you well).

I don't own nor have I ever owned a Zune. Same goes for the iPod. I have never owned a single mp3 player in fact.

I shouldn't have to acquire radio functionality from a separate "store", even if it's free. Why the hassle? And I doubt any free offerings would be as good as a solid, built-in tuner. Please. The fact is, the iPod has no built-in tuner. There's no getting around that.

And you're comparing products later in product cycles and at different pricepoints. At the same pricepoint, the Zune is better value than are the iPod products it is competing with.

LTD said,
We're moving to a one-device-does-it-all situation very soon. The mp3 player specifically will soon be obsolete anyway. Your device will need to be able to do it all to stay competitive.

While I don't disagree with your statement in general, there are those of us that still use devices for a specific purpose. You know, a cell phone, a camera, a portable media player (MP3). I'm of the opinion that a device of specific purpose usually does a better job than a device that is all-in-one. This is why I chose the Zune originally, for the sound quality and ease of use.

Turbonium said,

So you're equating me with a MS fanboy? I barely know you but judging from your posts in this thread, including this one, I can tell you're very arrogant, if not bordering on pompous (i.e. Apple products suit you well).

I don't own nor have I ever owned a Zune. Same goes for the iPod. I have never owned a single mp3 player in fact.

I shouldn't have to acquire radio functionality from a separate "store", even if it's free. Why the hassle? And I doubt any free offerings would be as good as a solid, built-in tuner. Please. The fact is, the iPod has no built-in tuner. There's no getting around that.

And you're comparing products later in product cycles and at different pricepoints. At the same pricepoint, the Zune is better value than are the iPod products it is competing with.

You seem to be going on about an FM Tuner. It isn't a showcase feature, and hardly a selling point. Although some consumers like that, it's not a feature that people really care about. I certainly didn't when I was in the market for an mp3 device, and to this day I still don't.

Check out some of the App Store offerings, free and otherwise. It's all about extending the functionality of the device you already have.

The iPhone currently has XM Radio capability. I assume this by default goes for the iPod Touch as well.

LTD said,
The Zune competes with the iPod Classic and the rest of the non-iPod market. It can't compete with the iPod Touch. Because it IS an inferior product, unless you compare it to the iPod Classic, which itself has already been outclassed by other products by Apple. The iPod Touch is currently the highest iteration of the mp3 player. Which has already been trumped by the iPhone! We're moving to a one-device-does-it-all situation very soon. The mp3 player specifically will soon be obsolete anyway. Your device will need to be able to do it all to stay competitive.

People still use radio?? Radio apps are available by the dozens - some of them free, on the App Store.

If MS came out with an exact counterpart to the iPod Touch, matching it feature for feature, you'd go for it in a heartbeat.

No, i wouldnt go for MS products if they match apple feature for feature. I buy things knowing what I want to use it for. If the touch was out when I bought my iPod a couple years ago, I would still go with the non touch model. I have no need to surf the internet, check my email...or whatever.

And I also understand that everything (music, phone, whatever) will be intergrated in to one device. That is cool and the time that comes, then the prices will drop and be reasonable. Then I will probably switch but again, I may choose MS, or I may choose Apple. Depends on the support and accessories that are offered with it.

LTD said,
You seem to be going on about an FM Tuner. It isn't a showcase feature, and hardly a selling point. Although some consumers like that, it's not a feature that people really care about. I certainly didn't when I was in the market for an mp3 device, and to this day I still don't.

Again, you act as if you represent the masses. You use what YOU want to use. I go to the gym and the they have TVs that broadcast the audio via FM. An FM tuner is important to some, maybe not to YOU, but to some. Whether you like it or not, it is a feature that your precious iPod does not have and it is right out of the box. And the Zune does not only compete with the Classic. MS sells a smaller Zune that competes with the Nano. The Touch is a nice device, but is overpriced for the features it offers IMO. Notice how I said it was my opinion? I do not claim to represent everyone.

Wow, lost of people bashing MS...typical...

Look, I like the Zune even though I have an iPod. The only reason I have an iPod and not a Zune is that there are much more accessories for the iPod. But, the Zune has features the iPod doesnt have. The Zune is not bad and the reason why there are not many Zunes sold compared to iPods is that Apple has already pretty much cornered the MP3 market. Why do you thing FireFox is having a hard time getting more of the market share? Zunes are slowly getting more and more popular and will continue to do so.

iPods are flashy...shiny...and yes, they are also good MP3 players. I could care less about the touch feature. I am most interested in how something performs, not all the cool little things that it does. I almost got an iPod touch but talked myself out of it and kept my 3rd gen 30gb iPod since it is working fine and with no issues. Plus, I just wanted a touch since I was sitting around bored one day and needed something to do...but I am glad I talked myself out of it. I also dont like the touch due to the fact that everything to touch the damn screen, you get finger prints all over it. Also, you would think Apple would integrate a FM tuner or something...but no...nothing yet.

MS is lowering their pices to get more sells but I doubt they are worried to much about their current sales. Hopefully them lowering their prices will force Apple to do the same since their stuff has always been way overpriced for what it does. If MS starts getting more accessories for the Zune, I will be switching as fast as I can say, APPLE SUX!...just kidding...but I would switch pretty quickly to the Zune though.

It's always fun to see Apple and MS fight over what are overpriced mp3 players.

MS fans call Apple fans biased. Apple fans call MS fans biased.

I don't say that Zune and iPod are bad mp3 players. But both are overpriced and there's mp3 players out there that are as good for less money.

Honestly the Zune is nothing to write home about no matter what MS fans say. Here in Canada it was a little more expensive than the iPod for absolutely no reason. This price drop might put it under the iPod (finally) but it will still be overpriced for what it has to offer.

Honestly the only Zune or iPod i would buy is the iPod Touch. It's overpriced to hell but it's a nice piece of technology with an attractive design.

But i would rather buy an honestly priced mp3 player that can run open source firmware because unlike most people here i'm not a blind fanboy ready to buy an overpirced Zune or iPod just because i love SO much MS or Apple.

There's nothing like a blind fanboy calling another blind fanboy a fanboy. That's irony at its best.

I have an ipod touch and a zune 30gig. In my honest opinion the zune is much better at music playing then the ipod touch. I feel the zune sounds so much better.

I like all the new features that even the old zunes still keep getting (for free mind you not like apple who charges touch owners for each upgrade).

I think the Zune is the best non-touch media playing device. I've tried so many different ones, including different softwares for them... and the Zune hardware, firmware, and software is really well done. Also, the Zune Originals engravings are really cool looking, and I love it.

Guess Zune sales are not that good but it sure has caught on in my office. We have a staff of 13 people. Two have iPods and 8 have Zunes (mself included) and love them. Got my partnr one for his B-Day and hes loving it and my brother loves his. I think some people want to be different and the iPod no longer offers anything that much better outside of the Touch so people are looking for something unlike the iPod. But who knows.

I think if MS included BlueTooth in Zune, it would have had much better sales when first released....I for one would love to have a wireless headset combo w/ Zune.

I've got no Zune but I've installed the Zune software and I found it very good : Gorgeous design, original functionalities... And living in France, I had no problem in buying on the marketplace...

I like the sound of that. Not sure why its taking MS so long to move Zune out of North America but I'm sure there is a reason. I'm betting it has something to do with the EC.

I think there's a little glitch in the new software. After I updated, some of the album art on my albums just disappeared. No Zune logo saying there was no album art, just a white square. Fortunately, it was only a very small number (about 5-10 out of nearly 400 albums), and I got it all fixed in a couple of minutes.

Wow, this keep getting better and better. I have had my Zune 30 since the start, and the firmware has changed completely since I got it! Go Microsoft!

I wish I could play the music in my zune on my laptop. Thats the only feature I miss. Otherwise zune rocks ! Awesome sound quality, both radio and mp3's.

I think I might get one after the holidays. Can you drag and drop files onto the Zune or do you need to sync it with WMP every time?

RangerLG said,
I think I might get one after the holidays. Can you drag and drop files onto the Zune or do you need to sync it with WMP every time?


There is hacks to drop music files straight onto the Zune through Explorer, but traditionally, you need to use the Zune software to sync. Can't use WMP either.

RangerLG said,
I think I might get one after the holidays. Can you drag and drop files onto the Zune or do you need to sync it with WMP every time?

Yes, you can drag and drop files onto the Zune software to add to the library, and no, it does not sync with WMP (although that would be nice). Also, I've found that the newer versions of the Zune software are very good at identifying my songs (artist, album, etc.).

RangerLG said,
I thought Media Player 11 could sync with the Zune.

Yeah, that'd be the logical thing for it to do.

PureLegend said,
Yeah, that'd be the logical thing for it to do.

It can do. You just need to use an external program to get it to work. You can make it work with mediamonkey too

I wouldn't recomment using WMP to do anything with the Zune. The Zune software already makes it too easy to drag/drop. Its sall performed in Zune software.

StealMySoda said,
It can do. You just need to use an external program to get it to work. You can make it work with mediamonkey too

Just so everyone is clear, this functionality is not built into WMP and you need a third party plug-in to get it to work. With that said, every time the Zune firmware is updated, the third party software will likely need to be updated as well. I would highly recommend just using the Zune software for syncing and you can still use WMP for managing and tagging your collection.

The Zune software interface is MUCH better for syncing than WMP. It's DEFINITELY better than iTunes.. try it out. You don't need a Zune to try the software.. but I recommend it

Just to point out an error with someones math! :P

Zune 4GB: from $129 to $99, a saving of $20

Should be: Zune 4GB: from $129 to $99, a saving of $30

Getting bored of waiting for Microsoft to release this in the UK, tempted to just import. Any reason why this is a bad idea (I mean in terms of not waiting for a UK release)?

creamhackered said,
I dont think the Zune marketplace works correctly if you are in the UK

Well that's lame.

Well, iPod is on the christmas list then. If Microsoft doesn't want my money, I'll give it to someone who does.

I bought a Zune in Canada before it was released here, all I did was go into the control panel and change my region to US and I was able to access the Zune Marketplace.

creamhackered said,
I dont think the Zune marketplace works correctly if you are in the UK

Right there. Nothing related to the Zune Marketplace or the Zune Social will work if you're outside America or Canada.

I've been a Zune owner since the early release of 1.0 and it's good to see all this value-add development going on, not to mention that most of it works on my original Zune 1.0 hardware.

creamhackered said,
Yeah bring them to the UK already...

they only released them to Canada earlier this year.. i bought one and love it.. It was a tough choice between Zune and Ipod though..

+1. I'm happy with my iPod Classic but I don't like the restrictions Apple put in place, notably limited video format support and the inability to play WMA files. I also oppose Apple's refusal to licence the DRM used with the iTMS to other manufacturers, and oppose Apple's negative / immature advertising. Not that Microsoft has a better track record.

It's a real shame that Archos and Creative have failed to remain competitive.

I gave up my new iPod after 3 months due to iTunes being the worst program I have ever used on PC. Its slightly more stable now, but it will have to print gold from my printer for me to go back. Zune has bugs too, but nothing as horrible as what I experienced with iTunes.

As far as price goes, the Zune is now the best value you can get. 16gb Zune for almost half the price of the 16gb touch is a great deal. Also, the Zune offers a ton more features than the nano, for less.

Chrono951 said,
As far as price goes, the Zune is now the best value you can get. 16gb Zune for almost half the price of the 16gb touch is a great deal.

How can you even go close to comparing a Zune to a Touch?

That's like comparing a Motorola Razr to an iPhone...

I did the same thing, sold my iPod Touch and got a nice player with far better software, love my Zune 16GB. The Touch is grossly over-rated and iTunes has been circling the drain since 6.x. And MS doesn't charge for firmware upgrades to add functionality, bonus for smart consumers.

bobbit said,
How can you even go close to comparing a Zune to a Touch?

That's like comparing a Motorola Razr to an iPhone...


I think i would rather choose the motorola. IPHONE SUCKS!!!!
cant even record videos, or send picture messages

I think i would rather choose the motorola. IPHONE SUCKS!!!!
cant even record videos, or send picture messages

Yeah, the Razr is quite a good phone actually!

bobbit said,
How can you even go close to comparing a Zune to a Touch?

That's like comparing a Motorola Razr to an iPhone...


Actually, you can compare them. A lot of people would take the Razr over an iPhone any day -- even given at the same price point.
In this case, the touch has more features but the price still isn't justified. There are some issues with the iPod Touch that would cause people to prefer any competing product, regardless of price. For instance, iTunes.

QuarterSwede said,
Yeah, I totally disagree.


And you are certainly entitled to do so. but iTunes has turned to junk on Windows and feature for feature is behind Zune 3.0/3.1 signifigantly. And the Zune software doesn't install a bunch of junk on my system without asking me. Oh yea, and I can actually get a 64 bit version of the Zune software for Windows, not a weak sauced 32 bit iTunes with a 64 bit compatible installer. You'd have to be pretty biased to not acknowledge how good the Zune software is, and how bad iTunes has become.

I got rid of a touch for an 80g. I quickly realized that I find touch based interfaces to be extremely cumbersome in many situations. I use my mp3 player in my car 60% of the time and I really missed the 'blind navigation' that was possible with a D-pad based interfaces but was difficult with touch. I also felt that touch has a fatal flaw were it is incapable of displaying significant amounts of interactive data because each item must be kept big enough to be pressed with your finger.

I'll add that when most sites compare the iPod/Touch to the Zune they often omit a very important feature. The ability to repopulate your entire collection (music, videos, podcasts) with the click of a single button. A friend of mine lost his stuff when the hard drive on his iMac died. He told me he now had to buy all his music again. I was skeptical and thought he didn't know what he was talking about. Is it true that iTunes does not offer one touch restore of your collection?