Following yesterday's news that the recent Zune player software update features an indication for phone devices support, the new Zune player software carries another secret: It's language localized! While Microsoft has neither unveiled any plans yet to sell its Zune hardware outside the U.S. nor is the Zune player software available from the German Zune.net website, it can be downloaded from the U.S. English website anyway. However, if the Zune player software is installed on a non-English PC (in this case a German Windows Vista PC, other languages aren't confirmed yet but are most likely), all dialogues change to German, immediately after the installation was started:
Also the Zune player software itself is localized now and features a German UI:
However, at this point it's not possible anymore to log-into a Zune.net account because this feature was left (normally it's located in the upper right corner, next to the close/resize buttons) which also means that there is no Zune marketplace displayed anymore. Most likely it's suppressed only and can be easily activated by Microsoft as soon as the Zune player software hits international markets officially.
But what does a localized Zune player software mean? Well, it doesn't makes sense for Microsoft to localize a software for a product which isn't designed or intend to be on sale internationally. And therefore it either means that the Zune HD (player hardware) will finally hit other countries in addition to the U.S. sooner than later or - which might be more reasonable - Microsoft prepares for an international Zune service launch for other devices than the Zune HD which are - most likely - some phone devices. If the latest rumors are true, Windows Mobile 7 will support Zune and Zune is a combination of hardware and services. So if a Windows Mobile 7 smartphone has Zune features built-in, it also needs the Zune player for media synchronization. At this point it's not said that a localized Zune player will also bring back the Zune marketplace (which allows to buy and download songs, videos and applications) but even without the Zune marketplace, a working sync solution is required if Windows Mobile devices will indeed include Zune features.
In any case, next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (from where the::unwired will report from live) should give us the answers.
UPDATE: It's confirmed that the new Zune player software supports German, Spanish, Italian and French out of the box (but interestingly not UK English). Nevertheless, these are indeed the most common European languages with which Windows Mobile 7 is expected to be launched first, according to a recent DigiTimes article. Is this the missing piece which proves that Windows Mobile 7 will be announced on next month's Mobile World Congress and that Windows Mobile 7 will support Microsoft Zune features?
Cheers ~ Arne