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All posts tagged "Firmware"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Backwards Compatibility As A Business Decision

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 02:00 PM


"Even with a big update, there are still many areas where the Zune comes up short when compared to Apple's iPod. It's easy to argue that Apple still has the lead in styling, breadth of video content, add-on accessories, and software and compatibility. (Zune works only on Windows PCs.) Not to mention the fact that Microsoft has nothing to match Apple's iPod Touch with its ability to surf the Web and run a wide range of add-on programs. But there are a couple of areas where Microsoft deserves significant credit. The most important, from my perspective, is that every feature that Microsoft has added to the Zune is available for free to owners of previous generation Zunes."

I was tempted to write off this article by CNet's Ina Fried as yet another article praising Microsoft for making the 3.0 and 2.0 firmware backwards-compatible with every Zune device--something Apple and other PMP makers should have done since the start. After reading the article, however, it becomes clear that Microsoft made a strong commitment to its customers, not just in avoiding planned obsolescence, but in building up the ecosystem to provide value for every Zune owner. If I have the latest blue Zune 16), but my buddy is still rocking the brown Zune 30 that he bought back in 2006, I'm still able to beam him my favorite podcast, play him (eventually) in Texas Hold 'Em, and get that photo he took of us last week to set as a background. In centering this latest update around music discovery, Microsoft has built a strong motivation to sign up for the Zune Pass and Zune Social, both of which end up being beneficial to Zune owners and Microsoft alike.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

XNA Back in Play

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune News" @ 09:00 AM


XNA 3.0 is out of CTP and into beta! If those words mean anything to you, head over to the XNA Creator's website to grab the latest copy of XNA Game Studio 3.0. While this latest release still doesn't support Xbox game devlopment, the XNA team has included a number of welcome features for Zune and Windows deployment. For starters, you can now develop Zune games on an x64 Vista, use Remote Performance Monitor and take a screenshot of your game running on the device, and (I think) exit games without needing to restart. Hopefully we start to see some announcements about app distribution and end user deployment soon enough. Hexic and Hold 'Em are looking kind of lonely.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

XNA 3.0 News

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 02:30 AM


With all the excitement of the Zune 3.0 update, it's easy to forget another Microsoft technology also at version 3, XNA Game Studio. Where last we saw the CTP (community tech preview) was compatible with the 2.5 firmware, allowing end users to create and deploy games to their own Zunes, XNA's Michael Klucher tells us you might want to hold off on updating to Zune 3.0 if you want to keep enjoying this feature, at least until they get some of the kinks worked out. As it stands now, XNA Game Studio 3.0 CTP is not compatible with Zune 3.0 firmware. This will change with the new version of the CTP coming in the next couple of weeks, which will now enable you to exit games without restarting your Zune as well as a few unannounced goodies.

All upgraders to the 3.0 firmware need to manually uninstall all games on their 2.5 Zunes before upgrading. Let us know if you have any problems or experience any weird behavior with games following the updates. Personally, I can't wait to try out Hexic on my Zune, and hopefully the many other community-developed options too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

XNA Preview Due in May

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Content Creation & Management" @ 03:30 PM


With all this excitement about the 2.5 update, it can be hard to keep up with the other big Zune news of the week. That's right: the preview of XNA Game Studio 3.0 will be coming out in May (Now With Added Zune Support!™). I personally can't wait to get my hands on this and crank out a test release. The only thing I'm not really thrilled about is the requirement to join the $100 XNA Creator's Club to be able to push my creations onto my Zune. And as great as the on-device main menu is now, I can see it getting crowded as more top-level menu items are added.

In the meantime, I'm going to look forward to just playing with the emulator in XNA Game Studio. Even Graham Skee has reversed his views against games on Zune (*tsk tsk*), listing 5 "must have games" that we Zuners should look forward to one day having on-the-go. He cited the great control scheme and phenomenal graphics as high points—plus the ability to use metadata and wifi as interesting new gameplay mechanics. A lot of the games he mentions make perfect sense, although I wonder how easy they'll be to see/play on such a small screen.

UPDATE: Corrected. Thanks Espiox.

Monday, May 5, 2008

More news on 2.5

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune News" @ 05:04 PM


Stefan at IHaveAZune:

"If you head over to the Microsoft Download Center and search for Zune software you will find that Zunepackage.exe file is now titled “Zune Software 2.5″. Unfortunately the file is actually version 2.3."

It's only a matter of time now..

P.S. The Video's back up. Thanks Ricardo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

(Even More) News on Games

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 08:00 PM


Alright, you're probably getting sick of the games talk by now, but I just had to throw this in there. I've been reading the XNA forums for Zune game news, and have picked up some interesting tidbits. For starters:
  • Games can't connect to the internet (so no profiles, no RSS feeds or web browsers)
  • The firmware update will be coming when XNA Game Studio 3.0 comes out (beta in Spring, final by Winter '08). It remains to be seen whether we'll have full on-device support with the beta, or whether it'll just be an emulator by then. Says XNA Program Manager Michael Klucher: "XNA Game Studio will take care of doing what you need to set up the Zune for games."
  • Further, "The only way that you will be able to play the games on the Zune is by deploying them through XNA Game Studio."
  • And "Games cannot run at the same time as Wireless sync." I guess no Multiplayer for now... This was in response to a question about ad-hoc communication with several linked Zunes.
  • No TV-Out for games, performance variations between Zune models is negligible (save for Zune Pad, 30's can do everything their newer cousins can)
  • Unlike Xbox, a Creator's Club membership ($99) is not required to develop games for Zune
  • Games can't be sent over wifi, probably for the same reason firmware updates can't.
If you have any questions, check out the XNA Forums, and ask one of the friendly devs there. Happy gaming!

More News on Games

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 02:00 PM


All the excitement of an XNA on Zune announcement couldn't be dampened by the fact that there's still no official timeframe for when or if the Zune firmware is going to support the games. A lot of people have taken this to mean that it won't happen. I'm not so sure. The fact that they've got games running at full speed on actual Zune hardware—not just a demo—proves the firmware has to be at least somewhat complete. And I while I know the announcement was more about XNA than Zune, they'd have to be fools to keep from releasing this at all. So all the "take the announcement with a grain of salt" talk is certainly valid, but as XNA dev "Omega Fraud" (Paul) says, at this point they're mostly just securing the device so that no tomfoolery gets in the way of the fun.

"On a more serious note, a majority of the work we're doing in this first release is around properly securing the device and any assets on the device that need to be protected. This work integrates and extends the existing Zune security and trust infrastructure. This is similar in concept to what we did on Xbox 360 but a completely different implementation."

Check out the video from Channel 10 below:

Games on your Zune!?! What? How? When?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Zune Firmware 2.1 Coming Soon (And New Software!)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 04:45 PM


"Here it is, direct from a trusted source close to the situation -- a Zune 1 running firmware 2.1, which will bring all the Zune 2 software goodies and UI tweaks with it when those bad boys are announced on Wednesday. That's right, we also have confirmation that Microsoft will be making the Zune 2 announcement on Wednesday, which should give the Zune tattoo guy plenty of time to get some new ink before the holidays."

Not content with merely updating the hardware, Microsoft has seen it fit to give us early adopters a break, granting us the same features that are rolling out with Zune2, Engadget reports. Not only that, but we're also getting a complete software and Marketplace overhaul. Folks, this is truly an exciting time to be a Zune owner.

(and I love the "Clever...is so last week" tagline. I truly hope they keep it in there.)

EDIT: Clarified when. (Thanks julioangelortiz)

Tags: Zune, 2, Zune2, Firmware, 2.1, Update

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