The chances of a Zune Scene editor running into a Microsoft Zune employee in the wild are pretty slim, but recently the stars were aligned and I got the inside scoop on the Zune 2.0 and also the flash based Zune coming out in 2007. I will attempt to preserve the identity of the Microsoft employee, he had no idea I write for Zune Scene, no idea at all. The whole conversation occurred on a business trip, you see, we Zune Scene editors have day jobs and are hard to spot in the wild also.
When I asked the guy where he worked he said Microsoft. That got my attention so I asked what he did, the answer was: "Zune". He gave his name and title which I will withhold. So I gave him a barrage of questions and here's what I found out:
Zune 2.0 and a smaller flash based Zune will be sold this year. He would not tell me the marketing names but referred to them as the big one and little one. The hard drive version looks like the generation 1 Zune, but is thinner. It has a larger hard drive and still uses the doubleshot. The flash based player he said is about "3 by 1 1/4 by 1/4 inches" in size. It is video capable and he said the screen covers about 75% of the front, similar to the hard drive Zune. The flash player has Wi-Fi and also uses a double shot. We discussed colors, he said there were several but did not disclose them. He had some interesting points about the clamshells saying that they can't be opened easily like the current Zune. Both devices have completed the design phase, although some last minute minor tweaks to the hardware will occur. When I asked about memory capacity he said "you have to beat the competition you know" he also said the flash memory fills the smaller device from top to bottom. Surprisingly he gave some hard numbers: 2.4 million next gen Zunes will be fabricated prior the 2007 holiday season. About 2/3 of them are the smaller flash units. " A new building is currently under construction in Dao Min China, next to the one that makes the XBOX 360" he said. In Zune Scene's opinion, based on that statement, it appears the Zune 2.0 will not be another Toshiba Gigabeat based device.
I also asked about the Zune Phone and he changed the subject and that pretty much ended the conversation unfortunately. So there you have it, the first details of the Zune 2.0 and flash device.