Brown is the new white, Microsoft stresses

Microsoft's press kit for the Zune digital media player is making the rounds and the message is loud and clear: It's all brown all the time.

The company is going out of its way to play up the main difference between its nascent portable music player and the iconic white and black iPods.

And there's a new tagline--"Welcome to the social." Not sure what "the social" is, but apparently a Zune gets you a VIP pass to it. All the photos in the kit show people--couples, groups of friends big and small--hanging out together, laughing and hugging with Zune earphones shoved in their ears. Really, who does that? It seems more antisocial than anything, but without being obtuse, obviously Microsoft is trying to drive home the main capability the iPod lacks: sharing music wirelessly between devices.

Zune users can share sample tracks between players, but the fine print cautions that sharing "may not be available for all songs on your device." Once you've swapped a song, you can play it three times in three days, but forget about trying to re-share the music love, you can't.

It's social, but not not that social.

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