OK, OK I was wrong when I said
My gut feel is that if we are [working on a player], it won't be branded Microsoft.
Chris Stevenson told Billboard that there is a music player in the works and it will appear under the brand name of Zune. Chris is listed in the Microsoft Global Address List as "General Manager, Global Marketing " in Robbie Bach's organization. Robbie is sometimes positioned as "Mr X-Box" but devices, and "entertainment management" - where Chris sits - are in his part of the company. Richard Winn, who works for Chris, has started a blog. So has Cesar Menendez who says
Today, we’re admitting officially announcing Zune, via an article in Billboard. So what’s Zune? It’s Microsoft’s new, holistic approach to music and entertainment. And yes, this year, we’ll be releasing a device as part of the project. Under the Zune brand, we’re looking to build a community for connecting with folks, all to discover new music and entertainment.
Cesar's job title is Online community manager, so it looks like he's going to be responsible for connecting with folks ... The first step in this is the coming Zune website
I read a quote from Michael Gartenberg
a Jupiter research. Various people have selectively quoted him to support a "Microsoft screws its partners" story. Actually what he says is rather more rounded. It remains to be seen what the Zune will be, exactly. As a Microsoft employee I envy Apples brand cachet; I don't think a “just-like-an-iPod-but-by-Microsoft” device is a compelling sales proposition, so I think we have try to innovate and create something with a niche of its own - wireless networking and the community aspect might be it. Will we "Screw partners" ? Those partners who want to sell music rather than devices are certainly going to be pleased. And the player makers ? If we try to differentiate the answer is "not really" - as a big player entering the market we will have some effect, but the assumption that everyone who doesn't commit to Apple's player will go for Microsoft's is too simple minded.