almost a year ago we had a portable media session at cwug (chicago windows user group) which was a lot of fun.  we had people bring their archos media players, ipods, psps and zunes.  when we talked about the zune, one of the questions was do you need the hardware device to use the software or a zune pass and the answer is no – you can load the software on a system without a zune media player (you can even load it along with itunes).  i use the zune pass ($14.99/month for unlimited music downloads and you also get 10 free song credits as well) and the music from the subscription is separated from the rest of my collection (so you can easily identify permanent files from the files that were downloaded using your zune pass subscription).  i began using the zune pass around the holidays one year, but found that there were certain categories that i didn’t want to own permanently – comedy performances and holiday music for example.  now if there’s one or two great songs, i can use a credit to keep them permanently (many of these downloads are now in mp3 format).  zune software even works on 64 bit version of windows vista or 7.