Zune HD teases third-party apps during weekend preview

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Microsoft offered a hands-on demo of its upcoming Zune HD over the weekend, where visitors at select Best Buy stores were allowed to handle the device and check some of its features. Among these a mystery “App” menu item was spotted by self-proclaimed “Microsoft guru” Matthew Arkin. Since Wi-Fi on the device was disabled, he couldn’t enter that section and see whether a true store is available and what titles are complete; but apparently received confirmation that a software development kit (SDK) was forthcoming.

This would allow third-party developers to create apps for the Zune – a move that has been widely expected but not yet confirmed by Microsoft. It's obvious Redmond plans to take on Apple’s iPhone / iPod touch with games and apps for its Zune HD but it remains to be seen how many (if any) the company will have on launch. At least we know its Tegra chip should provide for some gaming prowess along with HD video playback.

Support from the developer community will be crucial and we’ve already been hearing reports of Microsoft encouraging iPhone developers to port their existing apps to Windows Mobile. The company also recently filed for a trademark on the term OneApp and has hinted the Windows Mobile and Zune platforms may support the same software, since both platforms have Windows CE roots and run on ARM's processor architecture.

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