The battle for digital music supremacy officially began today with a song from NYC antifolk singer Regina Specktor.
Microsoft finally confirmed today its plans to launch its own digital music project, dubbed Zune, with a company statement and a Flash-animation teaser site featuring the song "Us" by Spektor. The line of would-be iPod/iTunes killers (and possible threat to the PSP and DS) has been the worst-kept secret throughout the electronics world, but Microsoft had so far declined to comment on the rumors of its move to take on Apple, Sony, and Nintendo.
"Today we confirmed a new music and entertainment project called Zune," Microsoft GM of marketing Chris Stephenson said in a statement. "Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year. We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together."
As for the gaming prospects of Zune, nothing has yet been announced. When asked about the chance that Zune may compete with the PSP and DS in the portable gaming sector, Microsoft wasn't exactly forthcoming. "While we do not have specific details to provide, the primary focus of Zune is to deliver great music and entertainment experiences."
All that has been declared is that the Zune brand will encompass "a family of hardware and software products" and will incorporate various digital entertainment services. But confirmation that the first Zune product will be music-centric and that other entertainment services are on the map, as well as Microsoft's push towards its Live Anywhere service, definitely leaves the door open to another Zune down the line being a portable game player.
Microsoft's penchant for such teaser sites is notorious: Earlier this year, its Project Origami site helped build hype for its line of "Ultra-Mobile" PCs. In 2005, it used a series of mysterious games on ourcolony.net to slowly unveil its Xbox 360 game console. (Microsoft has since sold the ourcolony.net URL to a Florida real-estate developer.)
For more on Zune and Microsoft's plans for the device, head over to MP3.com.