The brown Microsoft Zune has raced to the top of Amazon's MP3 player best sellers list. Aided by a big firmware update and a recent offer which saw the price tumble to just $89 (£43), the brown (chocolatey?) Zune has, for this week at least, outsold all the Apple iPod models.

On Tuesday, Microsoft launched its new range of flash-based Zune 2 players - 4GB/8GB flash models and the Zune 80, packing an 80GB HDD. Early reviews have been surprisingly positive. But it seems that it's the original, unsuccessful Zunes that are currently enjoying a sales spike in the US.

New dawn for Zune?

Indeed, while the old, brown 30GB Zune sits pretty at the top of the Amazon charts, the brand new 80-gig black one is placed down at number six, well behind the iPod touch, the iPod nano and the iPod classic.

Things are looking brighter for the Microsoft Zune. Sure, the current generation - good or not - will struggle to make a dent in Apple's market domination. Beyond the slimmer design, where's the real innovation? Where are the features that Apple wished it had thought of?

But with an improved image, new firmware and a new batch of players, which one review dubbed ' better than the iPod classic', could a new age be dawning for the black sheep of the MP3 world?

Blogger Ian Dixon, bought a v1 Zune from the US and upgraded his firmware yesterday. "The whole package now works for me they way I want it to," he says, "with TV support, podcasts, wireless syncing and the other new features."