The Zune 2.5 Spring update launches tomorrow, and with it comes purchasable TV shows and even more social networking functions. The big part is more tightly-integrated social stuff—like being able to see your friends' Zune cards inside of the Zune software instead of heading to your browser—the upside of which is automatically getting the full tracks that your friends have recently listened to if you're a Zune Pass subscriber. This takes up about 100 megs per friend card. There's also improvement in the player itself, like the return of auto playlists and the introduction of gapless playback. Wee!
Other cool social stuff:
• Xbox Live-ish icons on your Zune Card that are like achievements, awarding people who listen to an artist the most or passing a total number of song plays.
• Dynamic friends' list that shows what everyone's listening to. Find out about the band Tokyo Police Club from your buddies.
• Windows Live Messenger "now playing" integration
• Album reviews! Tell everyone what you think about so-and-so's latest album, because the world needs to know.
But the big thing is the video store, which comes now with 4,800 music videos and downloadable TV episodes for US$2. Their current partners are NBC, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network. There's going to be future Zune Social integration for video, but nothing yet. Microsoft's also leaving the door open for original content and programming as well, but there's no video sharing/squirting as of yet on the hardware devices.
Other changes to the player include:
• Auto Playlists (smart playlists) are back! They're not as powerful as they were before—or as iTunes is—but they're automatically updating playlists that you can have based on your criteria.
• Gapless playback. Finally.
• Easy drag-and-drop song metadata editing.
The update should go live somewhere between 10PM PDT and 4AM PDT tomorrow.