Zune 3.0 to Debut with 'Extra Value Meal'

AT&T has teased iPhone users a few times by putting up notices of free wi-fi at AT&T hotspot, only to pull them down hours later after the blogosphere (and usually us!) got excited, thus alerting them to their mistake.  While the apparently miscues seem to point to them working on such a feature, it appears the fact that the free access is still hackable might be the sticking point.

At the same time, the Zune, which does have wi-fi, but does not have a browser, has managed to strike a deal with Wayport, the company AT&T uses for its hotspots, to provide free access to Zune 3.0 software devices at over 9800 McDonald's nationwide.

The McDonald's deal is important because although every Zune has built-in Wi-Fi, the devices can only access free Wi-Fi hot spots that don't have a browser interrupt. That severely limits the types of public locations from which people can download songs wirelessly.

Many of the Zune's key new features, such as channels and "buy from FM" are most useful when Zune owners have access to a compatible Wi-Fi location. The McDonald's deal, struck with its Wi-Fi provider Wayport, adds nearly 10,000 places where people can access the Zune Marketplace store.

As indicated, any hotspot with a browser interrupt, whereby the user has to agree to a EULA, is unusable with the Zune (anyone for a browser in 4.0 software?) so this deal was key to Microsoft.  For Wayport, the deal means more cash upfront, and for McDonald's the deal means (hopefully) people sticking around the restaurant and eating more Extra Value meals.

At the same time, it's somewhat embarrassing to Apple and AT&T as they seemingly can't get past their own hotspot issues.

Tags:  Zune, value, XT, EA, BU