Just in time for the holiday buying rush, Microsoft has released version 3.1 of its Zune software and dropped prices on the flash-based versions of its Zune media players.
The price cuts from $10 to $30 off the suggested retail price of flash-based Zune units, with the 4 GB player seeing the largest drop from $129.99 to $99.99 (making the $69.99 Apple charges for a 2 GB iPod shuffle look a little stingy). The 8 GB version of the Zune drops from $149.99 to $139.99, and the 16 GB edition drops from $199.99 to $179.99. Microsoft has also dropped the prices on its Car, Dock, and AV packs from $!0 to $20.
The Zune 3.1 software is supposed to make Zune Social easier to get around, and sports a feature enabling users to compare their music preferences with other “like-minded” users of the Zune service. (We assume this is some sort of positive re-enforcement mechanism.) The update should also improve synchronization and play count reporting, but the news that will please most Zune users is that the update includes an updated version of Texas Hold’em (with a multiplayer mode) along with new free versions of Checkers, Sodoku, and Space Battle. The update is free for Zune owners, and should be available soon on Zune.net.