Microsoft Zune Gets Advanced Podcast Support

Apr 1st, 2007 | By | Category: General, iPods & Portable Media Players, Strange

Zune NinjaThe Zune portable media player, Microsoft’s iPod-killer, will be getting advanced podcasting support, according to exclusive information that we have received today.

Microsoft hasn’t made an official announcement yet, but we’ve managed to obtain previously unreleased images that show the Zune’s podcast support in action.

While we may have criticized Microsoft in the past for the Zune’s lack of podcasting support, Microsoft now appears to be leapfrogging Apple.

Not only is Microsoft introducing a new, radically enhanced podcast format, but it also is introducing sexy new social networking features, code-named embrace and extend.

Here are the exclusive details…

Controlled Rights Access Podcasts

Earlier in the year, the marketing director for the Zune dismissed Steve Jobs‚Äô call to eliminate DRM “irresponsible.” Now Microsoft is backing up those words with action, introducing Controlled Rights Access Podcasts.

“Controlled Rights Access Podcasts” is Microsoft’s name for a new Digital Rights Management format specifically designed for podcasting. While we’ve been sceptical of using DRM with podcasts in the past, Microsoft’s bold move promises to revolutionize the podcasting world and could even turn the already successful Zune into the dominant portable media player.

Microsoft previously cut deals with the Universal Music Group in exchange for access to exclusive content. With the new podcast format, the company can go even further.

Microsoft will be announcing a series of licensing deals with the music industry that will let it offer podcasts that feature major label music, including hits from Clay Aiken and REO Speedwagon. Because the Zune will now have a robust DRM platform for its podcasts, Microsoft has RIAA member music labels lining up to offer the latest music from their top artists in podcast form.

Lips Don’t Lie

zune ShakiraWhat this means is that there will be an explosion of new podcast content featuring major label music. Already in the works are podcasts from Justin Timberlake – the Justin Timberlake Too Sexy 4 Ya podcast and Christina Aguilera’s What a Girl Wants, a podcast that offers Aguilera’s tips on shopping.

The most tantalizing offering promises to be Shakira‘s Lips Don’t Lie podcast. Our contact didn’t offer any details about the podcast, but said that it promises to be muy caliente.

Key to understanding Microsoft’s Controlled Rights Access Podcast format is the idea that it is only supported by a limited number of portable media players. Specifically, it is supported by the Zune.

By controlling the media players that Controlled Rights Access Podcasts can be played on, Microsoft is cutting the Apple iPod out of the picture, which could turn the Zune from an iPod-killer into the dominant portable media player.

Burns For Sure

One of the most exciting new features offered by Controlled Rights Access Podcasts is Microsoft’s CD support. Not only will you be able to download podcasts with major label music, but you’ll be able to burn your own disks using Microsoft’s Burns For Sure technology.

Burns For Sure lets you take Controlled Rights Access Podcasts and burn them, using a proprietary Microsoft CD-writing application, to CD-ROMs. The CDs will be written using Microsoft’s podcast format. Microsoft will be introducing a Burns For Sure licensing program, so that you’ll be able to purchase state-of-the-art portable CD players that can play back the CDs.

We have been sceptical of using DRM with podcasts, but Microsoft seems to have finally got it right with Controlled Rights Access Podcasts and Burns For Sure. You’ll be able to play back the podcasts as many times as you like, on as many devices as you like, as long as they support Microsoft’s new formats.

Embrace and Extend Gets Social

Zune Get Really SocialWhile Microsoft’s podcast support offers a lot of interesting new features, the most controversial is sure to be its Get Really Social program.

Last year, Apple’s Steve Jobs said that iPods beat the Zune for connecting with girls.

“That chapped my ass,” said Microsoft’s Zune Social Coordinator Allan Surly. “Like you’re going to meet babes when you’re zoned out with earbuds on!”

While the Zune’s “social” file-sharing capabilities are superior to the iPods’, the perception has been that iPods are cooler and sexier. Microsoft plans to change that, though.

Because Controlled Rights Access Podcasts are encoded with DRM, publishers can control who can view them. This means that you can create podcasts that can only be viewed by a limited group of people. You will even be able to create podcasts that can only be viewed by one person.

Microsoft plans to combine rights management with squirting, the company’s term for sharing files wirelessly, to let Zune owners create personals-style podcasts that can be shared in bars, on the bus, or wherever you meet someone that you’re interested in.

“We’re taking the idea of embrace and extend and making it personal,” explained Surly. “Say you meet a hottie in a bar – just whip out your Zune and you’re ready to go!”

Following Apple’s Lead

While Microsoft will be leaping ahead of Apple with Controlled Rights Access Podcasts, it’s following Apple’s lead in one way – announcing its latest technology well before its release date. Microsoft expects to have the new format available on the Zune in about a year.

“We expecting a April 1, 2008 release date, with the public beta starting about three months before that,” said Surly.

No Responses to “Microsoft Zune Gets Advanced Podcast Support”

  1. […] April 1, 2007Microsoft Zune Gets Advanced Podcast Support Microsoft’s Zune portable media player, the wildly successful iPod-killer, will be getting advanced podcasting support, according to exclusive information that we have received today…via Podcasting News […]

  2. Eric says:

    Nice April Fool’s joke! Very well done. Although, the only thing that fooled was the headline. Read the first paragraph and it becomes apparent that the story’s a fake.


  3. […] It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, what with “Bum Rush The Charts“, Microsoft tweaking up the Zune for podcasts and now EMI, Uncle Steve Jobs and DRM.¬† […]

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