Zune 3.0 software sneak peek

CNET's Donald Bell offers photos and videos detailing the new Microsoft Zune software for the third generation of Zune MP3 players.

Screen shot of Zune 3.0 software.
Click to see the Zune software 3.0 photo gallery. Microsoft

With any luck, Zune users will be treated to revamped software and firmware tomorrow, compatible with all generations of Zune media players. The PC-only Zune software is now in version 3.0, and includes some practical improvements along with some gee-whiz graphical enhancements. I'll briefly run through some of the new features here, but you can click over to our photo gallery for a more detailed look.

On the practical end of things, Zune user can now use the Zune software browse and subscribe to content channels (similar to Rhapsody Channels), which push new music selections to your device every week. Keeping in the music discovery theme, you'll also see a Picks page in the software offering up personalized music suggestions based on your listening habits. If you've signed on to the Zune Social and have hated jumping back and forth from the Zune software to the Social Web site, you'll be happy to see better integration of your Zune card, profile, and listening stats within the software.

There's also some stunning visual enhancements to the software that may prove useful. For instance, a new Mixview window offers a way to see music and friend suggestions in a Web of connected images. The Mixview feature makes for an impressive demo, but time will tell if it holds up as a music discovery tool. Zune has also updated their software's Now Playing screen with a slowly animated selection of artist photos and related text mixed up into attractive, full-screen eye candy.

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