|This 'complaint' apparently holds true for the Zune, as well, since it needs it's own software for conversion, etc... |
Actually, the 'iPod' software is required for the 'iPod'. iTunes just recently (beginning with iTunes 7) incorporated this software into the iTunes installer. So you still need both the iPod software and the iTunes media player to load onto the iPod.
The big difference I see is that the new offering from Microsoft will allow you to use (without conversion) the native file formats - .aac, .wma, and .mp3 - where the offering from Apple will not let you use '.wma'. This again leaves the fence in place between Apple and Microsoft, and could be considered a 'proprietary' issue.
In the defense of your arguement, the fact that the 'Zune' software only runs on XP w/SP2 and MC, still leaves something to be desired in the search for a 'one size fits all' solution. Thus, the "I feel like I may regret purchasing an iPod, now that my freedom has been shown to be limited - but that is a personal issue" statement in my opening. I would not even consider another device if the iPod would also allow the use of Windows Media Player and '.wma' files. Sadly, this is not the case.
The wireless capabilities of the 'Zune' may compel many to consider it as an investment for future upgradability. Microsoft has indicated that it will provide firmware updates for the devices. I am not sure that this would be the thinking when purchasing an iPod (I bought one strictly for listening to music while working out or jogging, where it replaced the obsolescent 'Walkman').
I do agree that the iPod is more versatile in many respects, but it would seem that Microsoft is trying to; (1) offer an alternative option themselves to gain a piece of the market, and (2) offer a slow 'peace' path where more direct interoperability between Apple and Microsoft is possible for the end user. As always, consumers are going to be aware that this is just as much a plan to gain profit as it is anything else, but some people may see the subtle possibilities of a unified technical world.