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Microsoft job listings reveal Zune expansion plans

Todd Bishop serves up some interesting information about Microsoft’s Zune plans:

"Zune Services is building an entertainment store for a wide range of Zune clients or 'tuners,' " reads a Dec. 2 posting for a Web services development job. "Today these tuners include the Windows PC client, the Zune web site and the Zune device; in the future there will be more. Each of these tuners access a set of rich web services implemented by Zune and soon by Musiwave as well."

"The Zune organization is making a strategic change from a 3rd party content provider to in-house," reads a Dec. 2 posting for a software development job in Microsoft's Musiwave subsidiary. "We need to rebuild, re-architect, and revitalize a content ingestion pipeline that powers the entire Zune business. And we have a very short time to do it."

i.e. this needs to be ready for the Fall 2009 Zune (4) update.

But wait, there’s more … A Zune Xbox?

Blogger Matt Rosoff … found another Zune listing that refers to a "Zune Xbox" -- evidence that the company will connect it digital music initiative and video-game console in new ways.

"The Zune Design team seeks a visual designer who is passionate about software design, software innovation and consumer entertainment experiences," reads the Oct. 21 posting for a user experience designer. "We are looking for a strong, collaborative designer to work closely with the creative directors to propose innovative designs and content solutions for the Zune Device UI, Zune Xbox and Zune PC Application."

So. What’s a “Zune Xbox.” Here’s my guess: All you have to do is look at the paltry music, photos, and movie playback experiences that still exist for the Xbox 360 in the new UI (New Xbox Experience) to quickly realize they’re in drastic need of updating. Putting the Zune UI on the Xbox 360 as the UI for digital media (alongside Media Center, I guess) makes perfect sense. In fact, when you consider that virtually the entire Xbox 360 dashboard was replaced as part of the NXE—except for the digital media playback bits—it’s pretty obvious.

If true, I can’t wait. This is one case were symbiosis just makes sense: The Xbox controller is not much of a replacement for a traditional remote control, but if you look at what’s possible with just a Zune Pad and a few buttons on a typical Zune device, you can see, too, that making that UI work on the Xbox 360 will be child’s play.

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