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All posts tagged "software"


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sync Your Media Center, Zune And Windows Home Server

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:00 PM

http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/wi..._medium=twitter

"Windows Home Server was a large part of CES this year. I was pleasantly embraced by all you fellow Windows Home Server users and I joyfully shared the new features sets that Power Pack 3 empowered your home server with. The beautiful thing about our booth is the ability to walk everyone step by step, on how to take advantage of these new features. For those of you who were not at CES, I'd like to take the time to share with you those steps that I shared with CES attendees. One of the key scenarios that got a lot of interest at the show was how a Zune music player can benefit from having a Windows Home Server around as well. This post goes into more detail about why and how it all works together."

When Microsoft released Power Pack 3 for Windows Home Server, there were a number of new features added that perhaps not everyone realised was included. This article from The Windows Home Server blog, explains how to make full use of one of those features if you have a Media Center PC, a Windows Home Server and a media player such as the Zune. The ability to access your music, videos and pictures on both your Media Center PC and your Zune is nice, but to be able to record your TV shows and automatically create a copy compressed especially for the Zune so you can watch them on the go is brilliant. No more having to encode the TV shows specifically for the Zune, just record your show on the Media Center as normal and one extra copy encoded correctly for the Zune or other media player of your choice will be made. If you didn't know about this, then take a read and see how easy it is.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's New in Zune 4.2?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 10:10 PM

http://www.insidethecircle.net/2010...ation-post.html

"Zune Nation is excited about the Zune 4.2 Software update. What was labeled as a maintenance update has turned out to provide more than expected as many websites are reporting on new features and future possibilities that arise from this update. While it is not my goal to cite every article on the subject, I did try to get the originator. Overall, I wanted to give you a rundown of what has changed in this update as seen through the websites of Zune Nation."

My man Neville at Inside the Circle has rounded up and broken down some of the major changes we got as a result of the recently-launched 4.2 update. New in this version are support for Windows 7 podcasts Libraries, in-software playback of AVI video, black-tinted playlist tiles (saywha?), and some tantilizing hints of an upcoming phone device. Some users are reporting the ability to use the Zune interface in several other languages, including German. Unfortuantely, it looks like some of the international hacks have taken a step back to requiring the user to switch their Windows locale to US/English to access the Marketplace and Social. Hopefully this will be remedied soon with a launch in a a few international countries (as My Microsoft Life seems to think.)

Tags: software, updates

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zune Rumor Mill is Churning

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 07:48 PM

There’s been some crazy rumors flying around today at Engadget about what Windows Phone 7 will be bringing in the way of its multimedia experience. Namely that the media oriented phones will be bringing a Zune experience to the table. While I’ve been out of the Windows Mobile game since I got my G1, this would be great news for the platform, if true. The media experience on the Windows Mobile platform is definitely way behind everyone else.

I think it’s even better news for Zune. I know plenty of people who have Windows Mobile phones who don’t also have a Zune. Subscription music combined with a 3G connection would be a pretty awesome combination.

I hope the rumor is true because I think Windows Mobile (or whatever they want to call it these days) desperately needs something to help it get competitive again. And Zune really needs to be better integrated into Microsoft’s other product lines. Maybe we’ll finally start to see the Zune platform live up to some of the promises that were made years ago when the Zune 30 launched.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shocker: iPod Wins CNET Prizefight

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:34 PM

This is a little after the fact since this has been sitting in my queue for a while, but here we go anyway! This is why I hate that people think the Zune needs applications to compete in the market. CNET’s prize fight is a little absurd because we have two devices that in reality can provide the same service but really don’t do the same thing. I’ll save you the time…the iPod Touch blows away the Zune HD 4.5 to 4.0 in the 5 round fight. But they’re comparing two different things throughout the fight. I feel like they may as well compare a Zune and a Corvette and dock the Zune points for not putting out 400HP. Yeah sure, they both play music!

If you want a device for a little music, applications, games…go get a Touch. If you want multimedia device that’s dedicated to music and video, go get a Zune. They’re just not comparable and not because one is better than the other. If you take away application store out from the Zune equation, and there isn't much you're losing out on, then the Zune is not competing with a Touch at all. But because it has one it does compete. Poorly.

In most reviews I’ve seen, including CNET, the Zune wins on sound and screen quality. The navigation is considered on par with the iPod. Some like the Zune better while others like the iPod better but I think everyone can agree both devices are very good on that front and then it’s just personal preference. Both devices are well liked for the physical design. If I’m looking for a portable media player, the Zune just won on sound and picture. If I’m looking for a PDA, I’m getting an iPod.


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Zune HD Twitter App & Curse Words

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:53 AM

Soon after the Zune HD Twitter app was released yesterday, people who were following people who swore in their Tweets noticed something strange: the app on the Zune was filtering the swear words and replacing letters with asterixes. It looked like this:

Image courtesy of Engadget

Now, personally I don't follow many people who swear - and would probably un-follow anyone who swore constantly - so this issue didn't bother me at all. Many people got worked up about this though, so when I started to think about why Microsoft did this, the reason seemed obvious to me: parental controls.

If you're a parent, and you bought an iPod for your kid, you might not want him to be able to download any app he wants from the app store. The app store doesn't have truly "adult" apps, but there are some "mature themed" apps. From within iTunes you can control which apps your kid is allowed to download. If you own an iPod you've doubtless seen the pop-up warnings about age 17+ content on apps like FML [NSFW] - those are more of a "cover your butt" thing from developers. The reality is that if a parent wants to control which apps their kid downloads, they need to lock it down from iTunes. Read more...


Friday, December 11, 2009

Switching to Zune? Here's What You Need to Know

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Content Creation & Management" @ 01:00 AM

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-12519_...0409847-49.html

"The Microsoft Zune HD is a beautiful device and truly one of the best alternatives to the iPod we've had the pleasure to use. But if you're really thinking about hanging up your iPod and going Zune, you'll need to think about how to take your iTunes library with you."

Feeling the need to break free from iPod/iTunes but don't quite know how? CNet's MP3 Editor Donald Bell has a great overview video of some simple steps to move your library, playlists, and content to Zune without a whole lot of third-party software. If someone you know is considering the switch, this might be a nice thing to pass along.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zune Affiliate Program

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 02:53 PM

http://www.microsoftaffiliates.com/...ml?content=Zune

"This is your opportunity to join an affiliate program from one of the most recognizable brands in the world! A Zune Pass offers unlimited access to download or stream music. And as affiliates you'll benefit from recurring payouts, high commissions, great customer incentives, plus full support from Microsoft Affiliate Services."

Microsoft is starting an interesting new program for people to become Zune Affiliates. As members of this program, you will earn a commission for people you have brought into the Zune Pass program. I'm not sure of all the monetary details since they're not on the affiliate website. All you have to do is fill out a short application to get approved and you're in!

I'll be filling one out. The only thing that I'm really bummed about is that I have at least two friends who are Zune Pass users and I was an influencing factor in that decision. One friend uses Zune Pass entirely because I sold it pretty hard to her (and she's not sorry I did!)

Hopefully I can pick up some others.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Disney Wants to Let You Access Your Content on Any Device

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 AM

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr...23b01f3ee927dff

"A Disney initiative that could allow consumers access to a movie on any device imaginable comes not to bury the DVD, but perhaps to prolong its relevancy. Disney could demonstrate the new technology, code-named Keychest, in as little as two months, and it could be available to consumers next year, a studio insider said Wednesday. Using cloud-computing concepts that could be coupled with physical product, consumers would pay one price for rights to a movie they could play on multiple devices, even simultaneously, if desired."

If they actually get it on any device... If they get most of the studios on board... If those studios implement it on most of their films... If the inevitable DRM doesn't make it a pain in the butt to use... A lot of if's. Sure, many of us reading this site have the technical know how to do this now, but we are not the average consumer. If they get past this, I think a lot of customers would really like to be able to easily use their media anywhere anytime.

Tags: software, disney

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blu-ray Digital Copy: Only a Good Experience for iTunes Users

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

There are a lot of things that I don't like about Blu-ray as a format, but as the industry has settled on it as the physical standard for HD discs, things have slowly started to improve. One such improvement is the increased proliferation of Managed Digital Copy on Blu-ray discs. It works like this: in many new Blu-ray packages, you'll have the Blu-ray disc, a regular DVD, and a small card with a code on it. When you insert the regular DVD in your computer, you'll typically get an auto-loader (pictured above) for the movie, and it will give you the ability to transfer a DVD resolution (or lower if they offer a portable device version) copy of the movie to your computer in one of two DRM-laden formats: iTunes MPEG4, or Windows Media Player WMV. In each case, the code you're provided is used to authenticate the WMV and MPEG4 versions of the movie. The neat part is that you can get both the iTunes and Windows Media Player versions of the movie - I did this with four Blu-ray discs I purchased. Read more...


Thursday, October 8, 2009

How Will Zune Evolve?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 07:00 AM

"Microsoft is considering whether it should port the Zune software and services to other platforms, including Apple’s. There’s no guarantee that the Redmondians will end up doing this - or timetable as to when this could happen - but it’s one of many strategies under active consideration. That’s what I heard today from Jose Pinero, Director of Communications for Microsoft’s TV, Video and Music Business. I had a chance to chat with Pinero at Microsoft’s consumer open-house showcase in New York on October 6."

Going along with the news of a definite Microsoft commitment to putting the Zune platform on Windows phones, this article at ZDNet is even more interesting. Microsoft would be willing, going forward to support other platforms, including Apple. What exactly does that mean? Just Zune software on the Mac? Apparently not! Microsoft even is thinking in terms of direct iPod support. Now I don't know if that's realistic or not but its something they have on the table.

The bigger picture you get from this article is Microsoft's view of what the Zune platform is to their business. Zune has always been somewhat strange for Microsoft. They tend to build ecosystems for others to play in. Even the XBox follows that mold since a game system, by default, needs broad support from game publishers to survive and thrive. The Zune though has been Microsoft's closed platform. Microsoft controls the entire experience from end to end.

But that's not how they view the Zune platform internally, according to this article. Zune is viewed as their media platform for their entire product line. They're not talking about the players either. They're talking about the whole Zune experience. Could this mean Microsoft eventually licensing out the mobile platform? After Plays For Sure I'm not sure how many would jump on that.

It will be interesting to see where it goes. With the Zune set to make an appearance eventually on Windows phones, that will certainly give an instantly broader market and really that would be the first real challenge to iPod/iPhone dominance because that platform is widespread enough to compete already. Many people are happy to carry one device around and I could see that more than anything causing some erosion in the DMP market.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ballmer Confirms Zune Coming To Windows Mobile!

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:53 PM

http://pocketnow.com/tech-news/ball...-windows-mobile

"What is Zune HD? Zune HD is a couple things. Number one, Zune HD is a music player with a nice music service. By the way, the same software will be available on Windows Phones and Windows PCs. You have that today on the PC, you'll see that in our phone environment as well."

Straight from Ballmer's mouth to your eyes and ears. Ballmer dropped this tasty morsel during an interview with CNET. Now of course there is no mention of WHEN, but like pocketnow.com, I believe it won't happen until the Windows Mobile 7 OS launches. Even the most powerful of the current crop of Windows Mobile devices probably would choke on a full Zune HD experience.

This is, without a question, excellent news. Microsoft desperate needs to integrate its different platforms in an intelligent way and this is absolutely one of them. I no longer use Windows Mobile (I switched to Android almost a year ago) and I was just saying today I can't see a reason I'd come back. This could be a reason. This would be a major upgrade over WMP at least!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Microsoft Axes Musiwave

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 05:00 AM

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/0..._from_carriers/

"Nearly two years after spending $46m to acquire the Musiwave mobile tunes service, Microsoft has informed wireless carriers they can no longer use the service once their contracts expire, according to a source familiar with the matter. This source, who requested anonymity because he feared reprisals from his employer, says Microsoft notified operators by letter on Wednesday, September 9. The Paris-based Musiwave underpins the music, video, and ringtone services operated by wireless carriers across the globe, driving more than 50 million downloads a year for the likes of T-Mobile, Vodafone, and Orange. It serves carriers in the UK, Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Australia - though not the US."

I guess I should not be surprised, but I didn't realize that Microsoft controlled a big chunk of the download service for the major carriers. Like the article suggests, I'm betting their rebranding the service and possibly linking it in with the Zune marketplace in some way, but it still appears that the carriers are going to be left out in the cold. Any ideas what is going on here?


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Secret Life of Nicholas Deleon

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/09/1...-what-the-heck/

"I can live in Mac completely as I normally do, making zero concessions or compromises, then boot into Windows occasionally to sync my music to the Zune HD. I don’t have two separate music libraries or anything, but rather the master Mac iTunes library, then the Zune software builds an index and syncs the music to the Zune HD based on said library. Is it an elegant solution? Maybe not, but it definitely works and is dead simple."

Nicholas Deleon over at CrunchGear has an interesting writeup about his double life as a Mac user and Zune HD fan. Its an interesting perspective from someone who doesn't really use Microsoft products except when he has to. To use his Zune he manages all of his music on his Mac with iTunes and then boots into Windows when he wants to sync. This works for him I think since he's not a subscription user and doesn't add music too often. That said, he must really like the Zune HD because that's a lot of work to use an media player!

Interestingly, he seems to like the Zune software more than iTunes but knows he won't likely be using it anytime soon on the Mac OS. If you're a Mac user and the Zune is at all interesting to you, his article is worth a read!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zune 4.0 Software Deep Dive (Part 3)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 03:00 AM

This is a "deep dive" video where I take a closer look at the Zune 4.0 desktop software - this is part three of three (part one can be viewed here and part two can be viewed here). In this video I delve into the Video section of the Zune Marketplace, and realize how stupidly expensive some of the movies are ($19.99 USD for an HD movie to purchase - really?). I also talk about some of the new features of the Zune 4.0 software, including the mini player mode. The software videos were shot before the Zune HD Deep Dive videos.

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wonders if the Zune is ever going to exist outside the USA.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zune 4.0 Software Deep Dive (Part 2)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 10:00 PM

This is a "deep dive" video where I take a closer look at the Zune 4.0 desktop software - this is part two of three (part one can be viewed here). In this video I finally am able to get the Zune 4.0 software installed and running, and I get the firmware updated on the Zune HD so I can finally use it properly. The software videos were shot before the Zune HD Deep Dive videos.

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wonders if the Zune is ever going to exist outside the USA.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Zune 4.0 Software Deep Dive (Part 1)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 06:15 PM

This is a "deep dive" video where I take a closer look at the Zune 4.0 desktop software. Perhaps not surprisingly, this was a bit of a rocky experience - I've heard from many people that trying to install the 4.0 software over the 3.x software using the installer from Zune.net results in it hanging at 100% during the "Downloading Components" phase. On the suggestion of our own Darius Wey, I got the 4.0 software via Windows Update, and it all worked smoothly. This is part one of a three part series looking at the Zune 4.0 software. I've discovered many more things since shooting these videos, so expect a written follow-up after all of them have been published. Suffice it to say that while they've made the 4.0 software faster to load - a lot faster - it's plagued by other glitches and has a new type of restriction for international users that's making see see red. More on that later...

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wonders if the Zune is ever going to exist outside the USA.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Few Bits of Random Info for non-Zune HD Owners

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:30 AM

There's not much to this post, but a few bits of info that I wanted to share:

  • When it comes to apps, it's going to be Zune HD only. Moving forward all apps and games will be only for the Zune HD, not any previous models.
  • Older devices will be able to play back rental movies from the Zune Marketplace, but not download-to-own movies. I'm not sure if this goes back all the way to the Zune 30 devices - I'll have to test that.
  • Obviously, without the Tegra chip, older devices won't be able to play back HD content.
  • The Quickplay UI will not be present on older devices


Zune 4.0 is now Live. Get It While It's Hot!

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune News" @ 07:17 AM

http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2009...-0-is-here.aspx

"Early this morning the Zune PC software update went live, Zune HD hit the street and Zune.net got some cool new features. We can't wait for you to get the chance to download the new software, get your hands on a Zune HD and give Zune Pass a spin."

After what seems like months of waiting (technically there was no spring update), Zune has released new hardware, software, website, and Marketplace. One thing that's struck me is how coherant the update is through the software, website, and what I've seen of the Zune HD. In adition to the big changes, it appears a number of longtime requests have been fixed along the way. For example, the software now has a "mini mode" and the now playing screen can finally go full-screen. And even the older devices have been blessed with an update to 3.2 firmware. We'll be covering the news all morning as it happens, so if you see something cool please be sure to let us know.


Zune 4.0 Software Sneak Peak

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 12:02 AM

The new Zune 4.0 desktop software isn't out quite yet at the time I'm writing this, so here are three screen shots (provided to me by the Zune team) that show you a bit of the new user interface. Click on each image to get the high-resolution version. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Audio Compression Comparisons

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 04:00 AM

http://nigelcoldwell.co.uk/audio/

"I've compiled a table containing the same audio sample compressed into different bit rate using several common compression techniques. Namely MP3 (canstant bit rate and VBR,) windows media audio, ogg vorbis, AAC and flac. My intention is that you can use this to work out the lowest bit rate at which the audio sounds clear to you. this will depend on the equipment you're using, and your hearing. I firmly believe that if you can't her the difference then there is no point wasting space."

I think we've all spent time deciding what format and bitrate is the best for encoding our audio. If you want to do a bunch of side by side comparisons, Nigel has put together a sample file encoded in multiple formats and bit-rates. Basically, you keep working your way up until you can't tell the difference anymore and that is the sweet spot to maximize the quality while minimizing the file size. Before you go crazy downloading all the files, please see the notes on the page regarding bandwidth and take care not to blow his site out of the water.


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