From CNN Money.com:
"Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year," said Chris Stephenson, general manager of market for entertainment and services at Microsoft, in an statement. "We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together."Although Microsoft is facing stiff competition against Apple's iPod, the popularity of Microsoft software coupled with Microsoft's entertainment and devices division working with the X-Box team will certainly improve the odds. As the CNN Money article article further indicates:
"Allard's involvement is seen as significant because he is one of the few executives at Microsoft with experience in launching a consumer electronic device from scratch with the X-Box gaming system. His involvement suggests that gaming might be part of the media player."
Competition is good for the marketplace and Zune should make a nice accompaniment to the soon to be released Vista operating system.
Updated to provide sites to track the progress of Zune:
Zune Insider Blog
Madison and Pine
Coming Zune -- Subscribe to the Zune Newsletter