So Long Zune…

Microsoft has announced there will be no new Zune models in the future.   They’re shifting focus towards other devices.   Why?   demand just isn’t there.    (Couldn’t imagine why…. maybe using those video game partners for your Xbox business to sell it… but not actually putting a device into the hands of the people you’re counting on to push your product had something to do with it…)

Can’t say I’m surprised.    Let me be clear.  I love my Zune.  Its a GREAT mp3 player.   I hate the Zune software.   Version 4 has come a long way from the debut version, but its still following along some of the same strange decisions made in the Windows Media software.    Let’s face it, Windows Media 9 was the last good one that Microsoft had, and Windows Media Player has never been great.

Really, the software is just unnecessary.   I’m already running Microsoft Windows, which comes with Windows Media Player.     The Zune Marketplace should be a store accessible from that (or any other) media management software… without any stand-alone software to manage your collection (in two places).

That Zune and Windows never played better together is appalling.   Personally, I take it as a sign that Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, and his successor in that role, utterly failed at that particular job.   It was supposed to be about bringing consistency and streamlining Microsoft’s product offerings so there wasn’t two things that did the same thing, competing against each other on the desktop.     Yet we have Windows Media Player that doesn’t recognize a Zune and the Zune software that doesn’t recognize anything but a Zune.

No wonder Steve Ballmer opted to not hire a new one when the latest retired.   Unfortunately it is, as a former drone of that collective, a job that is very much needed, and very much needed to be done far better than Bill Gates himself managed to do.

I remember when the Zune first arrived in our office.  My coworker had picked hers up and of course the first thing she wanted to know…  “Why do I need seperate software?”

We talked.  The Zune is a neat little machine.    But as is typical with any entry Microsoft makes into a new market… its debut launch is something that is rather unremarkable.   The only thing remarkable about the Zune launch?   It actually matched iPod features.  At least the one iPod version that it was aimed at directly competing against.    (Apple had some fancier versions out that did a few things more.)   Microsoft didn’t leave key features out like they do with other new markets they are trying to get into  (Copy/Paste on Windows Phone 7, for example).   They even had something iPods didn’t (and I still think don’t)… which was the Zune Social piece.    Its nifty to send your  friend a track wirelessly to try before they buy,  but I had to strongly disagree with my colleague.   It was, itself, not a compelling enough feature.    I’ve never actually used it.

I never did buy a Zune.   Got one for free from the company in one of the many little morale-driving parties they do.    But I love it.   Its a great device that has served me extremely well, and I have no plans to ditch it for something else.    Well, I was thinking of a higher capacity Zune, one of the new ones with the touch screen.

Maybe I shall.   Prices might come down now that its basically going end-of-life.   I expect the Zune service to stick around indefinitely.  Its powering all of Microsoft’s music offerings…

Which brings me back to the Zune software.   Again, why?    Its infected my Xbox 360, and as soon as I realized what had happened in the update…  well let’s just say it is the sole factor on why I don’t bother downloading anymore game videos or trailers, etc.    It used to be when things were done downloading, I could go out to the My Videos page on my dashboard, locate the video I wanted, click play and watch it come up.

Now I have to wait while the Zune software loads, try and hunt down my Xbox marketplace downloads, and play it through there.    Additional clicks I don’t need.  Why can’t it just play on my Xbox natively like it used to?

Love the Zune itself.   Find the Zune Marketplace more than adequate.   HATE the PC-side software. Okay well, I hate version 4 a whole lot less than version 1. Its workable. The UI on the Zune itself is actually pretty neat, and the basis of the new Windows Phone 7 UI.

It’s a sad thing because this is one of those very rare hardware products where Microsoft actually has something descent.    Maybe there was one compelling feature– you weren’t locked into iTunes.   Sure the Zune marketplace was/is a big focus for the Zune, but I personally can attest that it does not care one bit where the music came from.  It happily accepts things I download from Amazon, as well as the extensive media library that was pre-existing (I’m at about half a terabyte of music these days.)

2 Replies to “So Long Zune…”

  1. I just had to do a complete restore on my zune, which was a replacement for the one I originally bought and developed a problem after 6 months. Thankfully the restore has worked, as I can’t imagine going to a smaller hard drive. I have the 120 gig which I definitely use the space on. Eventually I’ll get an HD, but I can’t justify $300 for 64 gigs. By the way, everything I read just said they aren’t developing new models, they will, however, continue making the ones they already have. I’m just glad I have a player that works pretty well, isn’t an apple product, and allows me to watch things at work. 🙂

    What’s funny is the software is the one thing they will keep working with. Perhaps you need to complain louder. I also get annoyed with it at times. It’s resource heavy at times, or a lot of the time. And it’s a pain sometimes when it decides what a file is called when it didn’t come straight off an album. But overall I’m quite happy with it if the hard drives would stop erroring on me.

    1. Yeah, but having worked almost a decade for Microsoft… I know all to well how to interpret that. 🙂

      The day is coming where we won’t have any explict Zune hardware anymore. Fortunately that day is not today, and no hard date set… As long as they’re making some money off the existing devices, we’ll probably see them around.

      Though I do see them going a route where they license Zune technology for 3rd parties to work into their devices (as well as Microsoft on its own). As such, i think its still a safe buy, at least for a few more years, because the service will still be there to support these other devices…which should mean our actual Zune’s will continue to receive that same support. Who knows, maybe Zune will come to the iPod.

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