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All posts tagged "zune"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Zune Music Pass Launches In Australia

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune News" @ 05:40 PM

Oh, yes, fellow Aussies. You'd better believe it. The Zune Music Pass has finally launched in Australia, which means 13 million songs and unlimited music video streaming are now at your fingertips on the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, PC, and web. You can get started now with a free 14-day trial; then, if it's to your liking, continue your subscription for $11.99 AUD per month, or go all out with an annual pass that nets you twelve months for the price of ten. Happy listening!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SmartDJ and Podcasts coming to Music/Video Hub

Posted by Steven McPherson in "Windows Phone News" @ 04:30 AM

"The next release of Windows Phone introduces on-phone podcasts, new features like Smart DJ (my personal favorite), and loads of refinements and tweaks that make it easier to find and enjoy great music and video. As one of the program managers that helped conceive and design many of these new features (yes, I do get paid to listen to music all day), I thought it'd be fun to tell you not only what changes we're making in Mango but also to give you a little insight into why we've made them." said Josh Phillips.

It appears that SmartDJ and Podcasts have made it into the native Music and Video Hub under Mango. SmartDJ is one of my favorite features of the Zune platform going back awhile now and I love the fact that it will now be included on the phone itself. It works like you'd expect it to with a ZunePass; meaning you can pick a tune or an artist and stream "like" music from the millions available in the Zune Marketplace.

Being able to select and manage which Podcast I would like to listen to, store on the phone or stream directly from the phone is also a feature that is much looked forward to.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mango Will Take Windows Phone's Zune Experience Up a Notch

Posted by Nelson Ocampo in "Windows Phone News" @ 08:00 PM

"It appears the leaks were true. Zune on Windows Phone Mango has received a nice update. Using the Mango emulator provided with the Windows Phone Developer Tools, we were able to access certain hidden features like Bing Vision, Bing Audio, Local Scout, and more."

picture from

In addition to some beautiful cosmetic changes, it appears that we'll also be seeing some key functionality improvements to bring it on par with the Zune HD device. My favorite improvement would be the visibility of the music playing controls on the lock screen. Sure, it's not that hard to press "power" and then "volume" to get to the controls right now, but this is a slight bit of streamlining that I surely will appreciate. The ability to have the artist's imagery on the lock screen when their music is playing is also a pretty nifty feature.Click the link to find out more about some other functionality and podcast support.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Free 3-Month Zune Pass With Any Purchase Of AT&T WP7 Phone

Posted by Richard Chao in "Windows Phone News" @ 09:56 PM

"With the purchase of any AT&T Windows Phone you get 3 months of Zune Pass for free..."

If you buy an AT&T Windows Phone 7 phone between May 1 and June 26, make sure you visit this site to redeem your free three month Zune Pass. You will need your IMEI number during the registration process.

If you do take advantage of this offer, make sure you fully use it by using up your monthly free credits for 10 songs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

APRIL FOOL'S DAY: Zune iOS App Spotted

Posted by Richard Chao in "Windows Phone Software" @ 05:00 AM

One of my favorite pastime is combing through Flickr and Photobucket looking for interesting pictures. Every once in a while you come across a gem. These two for instance were pretty interesting finds... (Hint, lower left corner).

We all knew this was inevitable. iTunes runs on Windows so why shouldn't Zune run on iOS? Besides, it's not like there aren't other iOS app developed by Microsoft. In fact, this is the seventh iOS app by Microsoft. The others are: Bing, OneNote, Live Messenger, Tag Reader, WonderWall and Sea Dragon.

One more picture after the break.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Selena Gomez To Help Celebrate Microsoft Store Opening With Free Concert

Posted by Richard Chao in "Windows Phone News" @ 11:30 PM

"When we open our Microsoft Store in South Coast Plaza, get there early to score tickets to the special performance by actress of Disney's Emmy- Award-winning Wizards of Waverly Place and platinum recording artist Selena Gomez! Selena takes the stage on Saturday, March 26th at 2 PM to help us celebrate our newest store."

There is now more information available regarding the upcoming grand opening of the South Coast Plaza Microsoft Store in Costa Mesa, California. The store will have its grand opening on March 24th and is located near Theory. The mall door next to the Microsoft Store will open at 6AM for people to line up. The grand opening itself will be at 9:30AM. To celebrate the opening, Microsoft will be holding a concert on March 26th with Selena Gomez as the musical artist.

The first 150 people in line on March 24th will get two tickets to concert plus get a chance to meet Selena. The next 800 people will also get a pair of tickets and get to walk the red carpet. Gift bags will also being handed out on grand opening day. For more details regarding the grand opening and concert click the read link.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Update: Zune is Alive and Well!

Posted by Steven McPherson in "Windows Phone Software" @ 06:30 PM

Okay, clearly we've all jumped the gun and read far too much into the article our friends at Bloomberg posted yesterday. Zune is NOT dead and is clearly alive and well, according to Dave Mclauchlan, Senior Business Development Manager for Zune Hardware. "I've had tweets, emails, PMs and phone calls. People offering condolences, checking in on me, etc... etc... Stop, stop, stop!" stated Mr. McLauchlan in a post earlier today. Sorry Zune, we didn't mean to communicate your time-of-death prior to your heart actually being stopped. Really, we didn't.

That said, I have to believe that the Zune hardware has to evolve. Its latest hardware release, the Zune HD, is an older one (18 months old) and is in desperate need of new applications. While its probably the best sounding and overall portable music and video experience on the market, its content needs to evolve or it needs to die as a hardware platform.

Microsoft is clear that the Zune hardware platform for this year is Windows Phone 7. That's the right message. The Windows Phone platform has content and thriving marketplace of over 10,000 applications and games, subscription music and video galore. If Microsoft is truly going to succeed in the portable media player market they need to evolve the Zune Media player platform to consume applications, games and content from the same marketplace. Music. Check. Video. Check. Applications. Not so much.

Hopefully over the next few months Microsoft will become more clear how the Zune hardware platform will evolve, but I'm glad to hear that I shouldn't be laying my lovely silver Zune to rest any time soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Microsoft Kills Zune Hardware? Its All About the Software!

Posted by Steven McPherson in "Windows Phone Software" @ 04:30 PM

"According to Bloomberg, a "person familiar with the decision" has confirmed that Microsoft won't be producing any new Zune media players, and that the company will instead focus solely on the Zune software that already has a foothold on the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone devices (it's not clear if the name will stick around)."

No confirmation from Microsoft yet, but it appears that Microsoft has decided to pitch the standalone media player hardware in favor of focusing on the software platform that has already been integrated into the wildly successful XBOX and the Windows Phone 7 platforms. Microsoft is said to be working on project "Ventura" that will provide cloud based music and media services to PCs, TVs and mobile devices. Could "Ventura" be part of Microsoft future media strategy?

I love my Zune so this will be a tough one to swallow but since my Windows Phone 7 is able to consume all of the Zune media just as well, I think that most users will be fine. While its not even speculated that Microsoft would discontinued Zune support within the Marketplace, it would be great if Microsoft would partner with outside hardware developers to provide standalone media player integration with the popular Zune service. Keeping the hardware devices "fresh" should still be important to the future media platform strategy. Only time will tell. Hopefully Microsoft will provide more clarity and confirm their future media platform strategy in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Windows Phone 7 Feature Availability Matrix, A.K.A. The Confusing Mess

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Articles & Resources" @ 12:08 PM

"Windows Phone 7 is available in many different countries across the world, but where you live depends on how much of the experience you are able to get. The 3 major features on the Windows Phone revolve around availability of online services and they are the Zune Marketplace, Xbox Live and Bing Local search. Microsoft has not made each of these 3 services available in every country that they are launching Windows Phone in and therefore have created a mess of what services are available on the phone in each country (with some countries even having partial access to some services)."

Although I'm enjoying using Windows Phone 7 for the most part, I start to get an angry twitch whenever I stop to think about how fractured the product experience is for people outside the USA. This isn't anything new - I've ranted about this on Zune Thoughts for years - but the core problem is still the same. If someone wants to buy a Windows Phone in Canada, they can't buy music from the Zune Marketplace. What kind of sense does that make then for them to use the Zune desktop software to manage their phone and media collection, but not be able to buy new music - and that's not even the Zune Pass, that's any music at all from Zune. I've heard for years how hard it is to negotiate rights in every country, etc., but at the end of the day it has to happen or the product isn't going to succeed. And the consumer doesn't care about what's hard or what's easy; they want a product that works for them. If Microsoft can't provide that, they'll go with someone that will.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shazam: Now Available For Windows Phone 7

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 04:30 PM

"With Shazam you can identify music immediately when you hear it, buy tracks direct from Zune Marketplace, as well as sort and store your Tags to quickly find and access your tagged music. Launch offer: unlimited tagging - don't miss a music moment - Tag as often as you like!"

If you have never heard of Shazam then you may be surprised to hear such an application exists. In a nutshell, Shazam allows you to identify music anywhere: from the radio, TV, film, or in a store by simply holding your Windows Phone 7 device towards the music and tapping the large Shazam button on the screen. The Shazam software identifies the artist and song, tags it appropriately, and then enables you to buy the music immediately. The Shazam tag includes details which allow you to link directly to Zune to give instant access to the music. Shazam allows you to sort tags by date, artist and track to quickly find and access your tagged music and to store your tagged tracks. It's a handy and most interesting application. For more details, hit the Read link and head over to the Shazam site.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wireless Synching is Back with Windows Phone 7

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Articles & Resources" @ 03:01 PM

"No doubt, one of the coolest features of Windows Phone 7 and the companion Zune Desktop software is the ability to sync wirelessly. For years we've had to endure tethering our devices to our computers, loose USB wires everywhere, etc. (Even more ironic is you remember wireless syncing in ActiveSync before they removed it)."

Microsoft may have taken WiFi synching out of ActiveSync a few years back, but it's been re-introduced on the back of the Zune desktop service - which is no surprise given that the Zune has been able to do a WiFi sync for a couple of years now. I didn't get a chance to test this with my Windows Phone 7 device - which, boo hoo, has now been sent back to Microsoft - but with my Zune HD is works really nicely so I'd expect it to be the same with Windows Phone 7. Read on for more on how this feature works, and how to set it up.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Music Metadata: It's Here to Stay

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 01:00 PM

On a private mailing list I'm a part of, the issue of music metadata was brought up - specifically, that the Zune desktop and device software relies on metadata for everything, and if you're the kind of person who has a collection of digital music stretching back 10+ years, there's a good chance it's missing proper metadata. Many people have worked around that by organizing and playing back their music like they would a Word document; via the file system. This is a habit that you should seriously consider breaking, and I'll tell you why. Read more...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Official Windows Phone Connector for OS X

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 05:56 PM

"Windows Phone 7 Connector is coming, for all you Windows Phone 7 obsessives stashing media on your previously incompatible OS X machine. No, it's not Zune for Mac, but it does get the job done: we've been testing it out over the last few days, so read on for our impressions."

As I suspected, 99% of the headlines out there over the past week the were proclaiming that the "Zune desktop software is coming to OS X" are flat-out wrong. It's amazing how people twist and conflate pieces of information. Anyway, if you're an OS X user and you want a simple way to get music, photos, and videos onto your Windows Phone 7 - the reviewer doesn't say whether it also works with the Zune...I'd like to think it does given the platform similarities, but I can't say for sure. The beta comes out October 24th, at which point I'll take it for a spin myself and see what works and what doesn't. What I don't understand is why Microsoft is being so coy about this - it's a pretty significant move!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Zune Marketplace Expands Elsewhere in the World - Sort Of

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 05:44 PM

"REDMOND, Wash. - Sep. 20, 2010 - Microsoft Corp. today announced the further international expansion of Zune, its digital entertainment service. This fall, Zune will expand its music and video footprint and bring the free Zune software, Zune Marketplace online store, Zune Pass music subscription service and enhanced features on to new markets, providing a comprehensive entertainment experience on Windows-based PCs, on the go with Windows Phone 7 and in your living room through Xbox LIVE. "The integration between Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE is an exciting expansion in our entertainment offerings," said Craig Eisler, corporate vice president, Interactive Entertainment Business Group at Microsoft. "Zune enables users to access the entertainment they want, wherever they want it - and now, more people than ever will be able to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that the Zune service offers." "

No surprises here, except perhaps that Microsoft has failed to expand the world-wide reach of the Zune Pass as much as I'd hoped they would. I live in Canada and was hoping - no, expecting - to be able to get a Zune Pass to go along with my upcoming Windows Phone 7 purchase. Here are the highlights:

  • The Zune Pass is coming to the U.K., France, Italy and Spain - consumers in that country will get the full subscription package for £8.99 / €9.99. However - and this is a bit of an issue for some - there are no free 10 tracks per month.
  • Music purchase is available in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Germany - this means MP3s from the Zune Marketplace.
  • Video purchases from the Zune Marketplace for the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Movie rentals from the Zune Marketplace for the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Is that a confusing mess, or what? As a Canadian, I can buy videos from the Zune Marketplace, and rent them, but I can't buy music? Or can't get a Zune Pass for the Windows Phone 7 device I'm pretty sure Rogers is going to be launching here in the next 90 days? Ridiculous. And why can someone in Ireland rent a movie, but not buy one? The Germans will be able to purchase MP3s from the Zune Marketplace, but they can't get a Zune Pass? And my head will explode if I try to figure out who can do what with Xbox Live - I've been able to rent movies from Xbox Live for months, but I can't rent them or purchase them on my PC.

This not the unified vision I was hoping to see from Microsoft. This is a slapdash, fragmented effort that fails to deliver a solid entertainment experience to everyone in the countries Microsoft is supporting. Yeah, yeah, I know that this is complicated legal stuff, but if Apple can get it done, why can't Microsoft? I'm tired of having to use a loophole to purchase music from Amazon. I'm tired of iTunes being the only source for video purchases I have available. I was hoping Microsoft was going to deliver a solid solution here, and they haven't. It's no wonder Apple is kicking ass and taking names when this is the best their competition can do.

The glimmer of good news in all this is that there's finally a new release of the Zune desktop software; I hope they've added useful features and improved performance, both of which are sorely needed.

What's your take on this? Am I being too hard on Microsoft? Should I be patting them on the back for achieving a tiny fraction of the digital entertainment unity that Apple has been able to create?

The remainder of the press release is after the break. Read more...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just Who is Windows Phone 7 Targeted At?

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 12:00 PM

Is Microsoft's problem, perhaps, that they reveal too much at times? Or are their strategies actually as incoherent as they sometimes seem? Take the recent announcement of Windows Mobile Enterprise. What do we make of the curious timing of this announcement? Did Microsoft panic about Windows Phone 7 being adopted in the enterprise, or was this planned all along? If planned all along, why not announce this way back in November at the time of the WP7 announcement? Read more...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What To Do About Zune?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 10:00 AM

"After almost four years, the standalone Zune player has something like 2 percent of the MP3 player market. Ballmer should face it: the iPod is unstoppable. But Microsoft already has a mobile-phone business--even if Windows Mobile is the Atari 2600 of mobile platforms, it still shipped on more than 15 million phones in 2008 and 2009, and the vastly improved Windows Phone 7 could help Microsoft double that number in 2011. Every Windows Phone 7 will have the full Zune HD interface built into it. Microsoft should market the heck out of this feature: the Zune HD is a better MP3 player than the iPod in many ways--wireless sync, the "now playing" queue and Quickplay feature, the Zune Pass all-you-can-eat subscription service, cool rolling displays of album and artist art, and better PC software. I'm willing to bet that phones running Windows Phone 7 will be better MP3 players than the iPhone, too."

As a longtime Zune owner, it pains me to admit that the product hasn't sold as well as it probably should have. With the single-function form factor on the way out, will a strong integration with Windows Phone 7 be enough to stave off tough competition from Apple? There's no doubt that the Zune HD interface is both beautiful and perfectly optimized for touch, and in a way it has served as a testing ground for some of the UI conventions within Windows Phone 7. With wireless syncing, the "pins" metaphor, and of course the Zune Pass, the Zune HD is in many ways a stronger media player than the iPod Touch. Putting this combination into every WP7 device will certainly shake up expectations of cell phone media players, but will people be willing to fork over another $10 or $15 for a Zune Pass on top of their monthly cell bill? Rosoff brings up the old "sure you could pay $3000 for 3000 songs, or just $15 a month" as a possible marketing tactic, but Zune has gone there before to no effect. There's little doubt that Zune on WP7 can be a winner, the question is whether they can execute on it and if this will be enough to save Zune.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Zune HD vs. Kin Two: A Comparison

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 04:08 PM

Adam Lien from pocketnow has put together an interesting video that will interest anyone in the Zune or Windows Phone camp; how exactly does the Kin - which is a precursor to the Zune experience on Windows Phone 7. All in all, there aren't that many big differences between the two - but it's interesting to see the way the Zune experience evolves when you have an always-connected device.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Microsoft's Project Pink is now Kin

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 10:23 AM

I'm in the midst of watching the stream of the live keynote on this event, so will report back later, but wanted to share this news as soon as possible. This isn't a Windows phone - it's a highly-focused feature phone that's targeted at a certain group of users. It integrates the full Zune client as well...more to come! The Kin Web site is also live.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Windows phone 7 Zune Software Walkthrough

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 06:30 PM

Curious about the Zune software experience in Windows phone 7? This video shows how it's going to work - I can't wait! Windows Media Player Mobile has been a useless piece of software in need of a complete re-write for years, so I'm happy to see it completely going away. Zune FTW! :-)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Managing Your Photos, Videos, and Music Using the Zune Software

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 04:30 PM

"The Zune desktop software isn't just a music manager for your computer - it will serve as the music manager for your Windows Phone 7 Series handset. Just connect your Windows Phone to your computer and Zune automatically detects your phone, The "Device" tab allows you to browse, manage, and delete music directly on your phone. All changes are instantly reflected on the handset's Zune hub. Take that, iTunes!"

This is old hat to any Zune owners out there, but if you've never used the Zune desktop software before and you're wondering what it will be like to manage your content and sync it to your phone, here's a brief video demonstrating exactly that. I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to use this! Here's one reason why: when I sync my Zune HD to my PC, I have a Sync Group defined in the Zune software that will automatically sync the last 90 days of photos. So I always have the most recent photos I've taken on my Zune HD, and I don't have to do anything to get that. With my HTC HD2? The photos are two months out of date already, because I have to export the photos from Picasa in a mobile-friendly resolution, then connect my HD2, and drag and drop the folders of photos over into the right directory on the phone. That process sucks. Bring on the Zune software sync - it's going to rock!

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