Rumour: New Microsoft Zune on the way?

Microsoft's Zune has not challenged Apple's iPod in the way it hoped it would

Rumours are ricocheting around the web that Microsoft is set to launch a second version of its Zune MP3 player as early as August. The current Microsoft Zune is very much US-centric; it still hasn't launched anywhere other than in the US.

But despite this very limited release for the first Zune model - built by Toshiba in its Gigabeat mould - there is a widespread belief that a Mark II Zune could be on the cards for release in time for the autumn.

Rumour has it that the new Zune model will have a redesigned shell and it's going to be able to play games. It is, however, unclear where a second Zune device will come from. Microsoft has been developing the next Zune in-house instead of using Toshiba as a manufacturing partner. So it's unclear as to whether this new Zune will be a tweaked Toshiba model, or the first in a line of Microsoft-made Zunes.

The original Zune device was a bit of a let-down to a lot of people; its Wi-Fi functionality was neutered by its complete inability to download tracks from the web, or even sync with a Wi-Fi equipped PC. It's 30GB hard disc drive was also fairly basic - it just wasn't the device that fans were hoping for.

iPod challenger?

So keeping that in mind, a new Zune could be Microsoft's way of making up for past mistakes. It would make sense to expect an 80GB hard drive, matching that of the hyper-selling iPod, as well as a sleeker design, bolstered Wi-Fi features and an improved control system.

Microsoft badly wants to start competing with the iPod, and what with SanDisk's own Sansa Connect Wi-Fi MP3 player coming out before the summer, an improved Zune is probably the only way that can happen.

The Zuneinsider blog has published a message sent to them by the Release Manager at Microsoft. It says: "We see Zune today as simply the baseline, not the endgame.

"That means we're still planning on adding features to the existing platform just like Microsoft has done with the Xbox platform."

That will be music to the ears of current US Zune users who can rest safe in the knowledge that Microsoft has not forgotten them, and will be making use of the Zune's upgradeable software to add more features to the existing players.

There is still no fixed release date for any Zune products in the UK.

James Rivington

James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR's parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.