updated 11:40 am EDT, Sun August 23, 2009
Zune HD Apps Confirmed
A weekend demo campaign at Best Buy stores has inadvertently betrayed Microsoft's plans to offer third-party app support for the Zune HD. A visitor briefly given control of the player by a representative has captured footage (shown after the jump) of a conspicuous "apps" menu item alongside music and made it clear the production player can download and install third-party software. The in-store unit's Wi-Fi was "blocked," however, and made it impossible to enter that section and see whether a true store is available and what titles are complete.
The company has never officially said the Zune HD would support more than a handful of built-in games, but numerous signs suggest that the company has been trying to create a unified store that would let both Windows Mobile and Zune users load the same software. A trademark for "OneApp" feature, as well as job listings, have all indicated the company developing a common platform. Microsoft has previously admitted it wants to bring elements of the Zune interface to Windows Mobile but has never suggested fully similar software.
The feat is possible as both platforms have Windows CE roots and run on ARM's processor architecture.
It remains to be seen how many apps if any Microsoft will have on launch. Although development for Windows Marketplace for Mobile potentially provides a boost for touch-friendly software, the Zune developer has reportedly been luring iPhone developers with cash to have them port existing apps to its own hardware and gain credibility with iPod touch users as a result. The presence of downloadable apps at all nonetheless significantly narrows competition with Apple, whose App Store has been considered critical to growing its touchscreen devices.