The Zune does what an iPod does, but better. The screen is bigger and it has network sync, so that you can get content, including recorded TV, off your media PC and into your pocket with no wires.
Playing a game on a Zune
And soon you will be able to write and play XNA games on it. Wonderful. The thrust at the moment is for developers, you will use the next version of XNA Game Studio, 3.0, to compile and deploy the programs.
The Zune uses a version of the .NET Compact Framework, just like the Xbox 360, and you get all the neat debugging support that you have on that platform.
You also get a very healthy 16MB of program memory for your code to stretch its' legs in, which on a portable device like this is an incredible amount of space. It even works on all the Zune platforms, including the tiny diskless ones and you also get access to the media the Zune holds.
You can even get information from the audio signal, so that you can create programs that respond to the beat in the songs.
I found all this out at the second XNA session of the day.
They had a bunch of Zunes running a bunch of games. Of course, given the hardware constraints of the Zune device, we are not talking about huge, 3D first person shooters here, only the 2D parts of XNA are supported, but it does mean you could take the same game code and run it on PC, Xbox or mobile devices. Your games can even make use of the networking support built into Zune, so that you can create wireless games.
The first version of Game Studio 3.0 will be out in April, with the release version by the end of the year. The XNA team have been very good at keeping to their release dates, and I'm really looking forward to seeing this come out.