UPDATED (New links, more things I like)
UPDATED (Again, now with a video of the Zunes and Zune software in action)

So the Zune2 IMHO is hugely important for us.  Apple seemed to have opened a big ole can of whoop-ass on us a few weeks ago with their new generation of iPods (Nano, Touch etc.) and it's clear we needed to respond.

Tonight at midnight EST (which by my watch is still 53 minutes away - but whatever) we are supposed to be lifting an embargo on a press event we held earlier in the day regarding the next year (at least) of Zune products and Zune marketplace.  However - here is a collection of stories that are currently running before the embargo:

http://www.news.com/Microsoft-unveils-new-generation-of-Zune/2100-1041_3-6211357.html?tag=nefd.top

http://www.engadget.com/2007/10/02/microsofts-new-zunes-officially-in-80-8-and-4gb-sizes/

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/zune/official-zune-2-and-zune-flash-photos-306409.php

And this wired review seems to be the best:

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/10/hands-on-with-z.html 

Microsoft official release: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/oct07/10-02ZuneNextGenPR.mspx

Video of the Zune and the Zune software: http://crunchgear.com/2007/10/03/heres-what-happend-at-microsoft-today/
DAMN that software is sexy!  My favorite quote from the Wired article applies: 

"We're not the hardware company they are," he said, laughing. "But then again, they're not the software company that we are."

iTunes looks soooo last century by comparison now . . .  

So the things I'm excited about are:

  1. Gorgeous software!  Wait - what?  Did I just say that we made some gorgeous software?  The original Zune software sort of . . . sucked . . . I never liked the UI and many people complained that it was just a re-badged Media Player.  Well check this out: http://www.engadget.com/gallery/microsofts-new-zunes-officially-in-80-8-and-4gb-sizes/423766/  That picture in the background that looks like a poster?  I think that's the new software.  Dang that looks hot!  It's so hot it makes iTunes look like teh suck!!  WOW!
  2. Wireless sync with host PC . . . I'd love to just leave my Zune in my pocket or on my desk and have it start syncing automagically in the background without a dock / cradle / whatever when I enter the range of my home wifi where I download all my music.  I hope it's that easy.  Although given the speed of wifi and the battery use - I'm not sure if this is really feasible for large syncs . . . I guess on a given day not much changes if you're just wanting to sync new songs and videos downloaded over the last day or so - so hopefully this will just work provided you charge your Zune every day to keep it on and in range.
  3. Media Center support!  It's about freaking time!  Right now I use 3rd party software to transocde shows onto my Zune - its embarassing.  It'll be nice having the software do this for me automatically and *wirelessly*!  Wow! 
  4. Eased restrictions on DRM on 'squirted' songs (God I hate saying that).  I will admit I was burned by the 3 days 3 plays thing.  A friend squirted a bunch of music to me just before a trip and I didn't get a chance to listen to all of it before most of it expired due to the 3 day restriction.  So the fact that it will stay on my Zune until I finally get a chance to listen to it is good - but it should have been this way from the start.
  5. 1 million tracks of DRM free music!  Freaking finally!!!  I loathe DRM . . . I have purchased DRM'd music from MSN, Urge and now Zune Marketplace.  It's a total pain in the ass for legitimate buyers like me and it's easily stripped for illegitimate buyers and technocrats who just want to remove it from their own music.  I think it's awesome that we're jumping on the DRM free band wagon.
  6. Gesture support on the new Zune-pad?  The CNet article seems to imply the new Zunepad on the v2s will be like the iPods offering both gesture support and click / tactile support . . .

Overall - I have to admit - I'm impressed.  I would have been MORE impressed if we had been able to get the jump on Apple and do this a year ago . . . but better late than never.  If that's indeed what the new software is going to look like . . . and if indeed I can take my Zunev1 and upgrade it to the latest firmware and use it with the latest software and have it wirelessly sync all my Media Center shows and newly purchased music on its own as long as the device is on . . . holy crap - that's what I'm talkin' about!