Microsoft officially confirms Zune

So, the cat - or in this case, rabbit - is out of the bag.After weeks of online speculation that Microsoft was planning an iPod assasin, the software

So, the cat - or in this case, rabbit - is out of the bag.

After weeks of online speculation that Microsoft was planning an iPod assasin, the software giant announced today that there will be a Zune MP3 player. Wi-Fi and a hard drive have both been pledged as part of the wannabe gadget icon.

The news earlier - a Saturday, do these guys never rest? - came via an article in Billboard, which, annoyingly, you can't read because it's behind a pay wall. A Zune Insider blog, however, has been set up repeating the news, allegedly by a chap genuinely working on the project.

We've not had any word from Microsoft that the blogger actually works there, but the comments in Billboard did come from Chris Stephenson, an exec at MSN Entertainment Business.

In a sure sign of how desperate Microsoft is to distance itself from Zune - aside from future cash flowing into its coffers - a search on Microsoft.com for 'Zune' throws up zero results.

So far there are no details beyond the fact that there'll be a "family" of products, though the first one will presumably be an MP3 player of some description. You can sign up on Microsoft's teaser site (featuring the bunny pictured above) called Coming Zune.

The Billboard interview also briefly mentions two future products, one a portable video device - i.e. an Archos killer - and one a portable gaming effort, presumably aimed dead at the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS.

More as we get it, hopefully on a far much civilized working day, like Monday.

Essentials

Related stories:

Coming Zune

Zune Insider blog

Billboard magazine