Week in review: Zune goes HD, but does it matter?

Microsoft releases the latest version of its iPod challenger, while Intel shakes up its exec ranks. Also: Google book battle heats up.

Microsoft took another swipe at the iPod this week with the launch of the latest version of the Zune media player. After three years and untold millions spent on the line, Microsoft's hopes of cutting into the iPod's big lead are now on the Zune HD , with its 3.3-inch multitouch screen, streaming-music feature, and the ability to play back video, with the help of an HDTV, in 720p. A 16GB Zune HD is available at retailers for $219.99, and a 32GB version will cost $289.99.

But at this point in Zune's evolution there's plenty of skepticism about whether Microsoft and its media player can close the gap on Apple. A Zune-iPod comparison has for too long resembled a late-round prize fight, the kind where the challenger is cut, swollen-eyed and wobbly legged but refuses to go to the canvas. Zune sales are falling, a top manager has moved on, and what's perhaps most worrisome is that the category is becoming passe.

•  Microsoft Zune HD: Under the hood
•  Surprises about the Zune HD
•  Windows 7 works fine with Zune HD, iTunes 9
•  Zune HD: You call that a browser?
• Spec to spec: Zune HD versus iPod Touch

More headlines

Google: Apple rejected Google Voice

Google goes public with its side of the story, telling the FCC that Apple rejected the voice app it said it was still reviewing.

Intel shakeup gives EMC a longtime chip exec

The two tech titans reshuffle their top ranks, with chip bigwig Pat Gelsinger headed from Intel to storage specialist EMC.
•  Apple hires new general counsel from Intel
•  Intel contests EU on $1.45 billion fine

Browser-based Office shows its face

Microsoft launches a "technology preview" for the online versions of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, but users still can't edit their Word docs.

State AGs on Google Books settlement: We object

Five states join opposition to the settlement on the grounds that states, rather than the Books Rights Registry, should be entitled to unclaimed proceeds.
•  Report: Google considering book settlement tweaks
•  Google acquires ReCaptcha as book-scanning aid
•  Near-instant book printer adds Google Books titles

Rogue ad hits New York Times site

Unauthorized ad warns readers that their computer may be infected with a virus and redirects them to a site that purports to offer antivirus software.
•  Ads--the new malware delivery format
•  Microsoft sues over malicious online ads

Voice chat coming to Facebook

A new service from Vivox will make it possible for any Facebook user to have a voice conversation with anyone else on the social network.
•  Phone calling coming to Twitter
•  Skype founders file copyright suit against Skype

Facebook: We've got 300 million users...and we're making money

The company achieved a cash flow-positive status for the first time last quarter, a post by CEO Mark Zuckerberg read.
•  Facebook fights Virginia's demand for user data, photos
•  Oops! Facebook jumps the gun on 'Prototypes'

Researchers push for new cell phone safety standards

Scientists testifying at a Senate subcommittee and attending a conference on cell phones and health this week say the FCC needs to change safety guidelines for cell phones.

Microsoft launches Bing 'Visual Search'

At TechCrunch50, Microsoft shows off a new way to skin a search. It uses thumbnail images that match queries. Not bad.
•  Bing grabs 10 percent of search market

At TechCrunch50, sexy yields to sensible

There weren't a lot of companies launching at the annual conference that promised something never-before-seen new. But this should be taken as a sign of industry maturation, not a dearth of ideas.
• Best of show: Our top five
• TechCrunch50 2009 in pictures
• Full TechCrunch50 coverage

Also of note
•  PC shipments still have that sinking feeling
•  Apple explains iPhone OS 3.1 Exchange changes
•  Microsoft sues over malicious online ads

 

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