Microsoft to Debut Zune 2 on Tuesday

Microsoft will hold a event on Tuesday in Redmond to herald the second generation of Zune music players, BetaNews has learned.

According to sources close to the situation, both Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Design and Development chief J Allard will be on hand for the event. The main part of the announcement will center around the players, which will include the first flash memory based Zunes.

Entering the flash-based device market is very important for Microsoft, as the category is by far the most popular. While the Zune has managed to grab a 10 percent share of the HDD player segment, overall that has amounted to about a 3 percent share of the market in general.

Not much change in the Zune's design will accompany the new HDD players, which would look similar but thinner. The flash based players will measure 3-inches by 1.25-inches and are said to look much like the iPod nano. The smaller Zunes will be video capable, and are rumored to include Wi-Fi and higher storage than competing products.

About 2.4 million next-generation Zunes will be manufactured during the 2007 holiday season, according to reports. Two-thirds of these players are expected to be flash-based, showing that Microsoft is indeed aware of the much higher popularity of flash players, which are cheaper.

The new players are expected to be available beginning in November. The company is also expected to give details at the event of a new Zune community site that will launch in beta, and Microsoft's own line of first party accessories, although not many details are currently available.

Gates and Allard will likely touch on the company's long term commitment to the platform. While many analysts have considered the Zune a flop so far -- the company is only selling 1 Zune for every 25 or so iPods sold -- Microsoft is determined to make its mark in the industry.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the news.

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