Right now I have a Zune, and like the iPod, it's locked into using proprietary software. I don't much like either player's software solution.
As an alternative, I've been eying Cowon players for when this old zune eventually dies. So if you're looking for an alternative to the iPod/Zune, it might be a possibility to investigate.
There are two secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day, and you have to have a dream.