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All posts tagged "canada"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zune Marketplace Semi-Live in Canada, Official soon?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 01:45 PM


"So as you now know, traces of the Canadian music Marketplace have shown up a few times quite late at night. This time though, I was able to pull a digital “stakeout” and dig a bit deeper into the availability. As I had previously posted, purchases and individual artist pages were unavailable and would throw an error message back to me, yielding nothing usable or interesting. Last night at 11:24 pm I tried a search for The Bird and the Bee and to my surprise, it showed up with a picture and the artist’s albums available on the Marketplace. Before the network went back down I clicked on a song that I wanted to purchase and viola! It worked! No error message telling me that those services “are not available in my region.” The song downloaded without error and I have officially purchased my first song through the Zune Marketplace."

While Zune users in the U.S. have had the ability to buy and rent music, movies, and TV shows for as long as they've been offered on the Marketplace, international users (like our own Jason Dunn, from Canada) have generally been treated like second-class citizens, gaining access several years late or not at all. The situation was fixed somewhat in 2009 with the introduction of Movies and TV shows to Canada, U.K., France, Italy, and others, but still no music store. This seems to be changing, as Zunited's Josh Martin noticed that the Marketplace was often live in Canada during the night, an indication of them testing the service for a possible upcoming launch. That he was able to search for and purchase music is definitely a good sign of an international launch, but it seems a bit odd they'd flip the switch to allow public users before making an official announcement. Here's hoping we hear something soon. The Marketplace needs to go international. And fast.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Zune HD Apps Now Available to Canadians...Or Not?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 09:12 AM


The news came out a few days ago that the Zune HD apps were going to be available to Canadians - this has been something that has irked me for a while, because the process has worked like this for me in order to get apps: signing out of my Canadian Live ID, exiting the Zune software, changing the Windows 7 region to USA, starting up the Zune software, signing in with my USA Live ID, grabbing the apps, then reversing the above procedure before I can get back to it tracking my music.

It put a smile on my face when I heard this news, but that smile turned upside down when I tried to access it and got the above error. This is the same error I've been seeing since getting the Zune HD back in 2009. I exited the app...same problem. I logged out and logged back in with my Live ID...same problem.

I tried to get confirmation from someone on the Zune team over Twitter yesterday that this feature was actually in place and working, but haven't heard back yet...so I'm not sure if this is a unique bug on my end, or this is a case of an announced feature that hasn't been turned on yet. Any other Canadian Zune HD owners gotten this to work yet?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The UBB Deception: Usage Based Billing in Canada Explained

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:30 PM

This is one of more easier to understand videos when it comes to the issue of Usage Based Billing - UBB - and what it really means. I'm putting this on every site in the network because if you're in Canada, you need to understand what's happening (everyone else in the world might find it interesting). Now that one of the ISPs here in Canada has admitted that the pricing of their plans is not linked to actual use, the logic behind UBB start to become even more baffling. We know the motivation is money, but as a "small c capitalist" I believe there's room for plenty of profit while still being fair to your customers. The model of usage-based billing we use in society for buying clothes and food should be applied in the same way for a data connection. Read more...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zune Originals for Canada...Not Quite Ready Yet

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 02:50 PM

When we reported last week that Zune Originals were now available for Canadians to order from, well, it seems that wasn't exactly true. Zune Thoughts reader Bob tried to order one, but the US site doesn't allow for the input of Canadian provinces. When he tried to toggle the location to Canada, the site fails to load. He contacted Zune tech support about the issue, and this was their response:

"Dear Bob,

Thank you for your inquiry. The Zune HD devices have recently become available to Canadian customers. Unfortunately, the Canadian Zune Store website is currently under construction to accommodate the new changes. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes you. We recommend periodically checking the website, it should be up and running by next week.

Welcome to the Social!

Rebecca C
The Zune Originals Team"

So it seem like the announcement from the Zune team was a bit premature - no Zune Originals for us Canucks just yet!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Zune Originals Now Available in Canada

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 10:21 AM


The Zune HD came out in September 2009. A year and a half later, it's now going to be available officially in Canada via the Zune Originals Web site. Nice to see, but is it too late for anyone to care? It's 2011 and while I still believe the Zune HD is a great media player, technology marches onward and the first-generation Tegra hardware and low-resolution screen don't exactly stack up well against an iPod Touch 4G with a Retina display. I've been wish for some news on the Zune hardware front, but this wasn't what I was expecting. And it kind of seems like Microsoft has quit updating the Zune originals series - look at the Xbox games collection...there's nothing current in there.

Yeah, I'm a little grumpy about the state of Zune. :-(

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 Zune.net 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...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Updated Zune International User's Guide

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 08:00 AM


A quick note to let you know that I've updated the International Zune User's Guide. I spent a couple of hours on Saturday going through every part of the article, seeing what was new, and what was the same, updating it for the Zune HD era we now live in. About a month ago I had my buddy Grahm Skee from ABI send me a couple of Zune Pass cards in the mail - the one-month pre-paid cards that sell for $14.99 - and guess what? They worked! So if you live outside the USA and want a Zune Pass, this is the only way I'm aware of for you to get it. Sadly, there's still no way to get any video content other than music videos - hell, I can't even watch the movie trailers. Really Zune team? Even the movie trailers have to be IP-blocked? Sheesh. :-(

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Fellow Canadians, Rejoice: We Finally Have a Good Online MP3 Music Store

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 04:00 AM


Well, colour me impressed - HMV, a CD and DVD retail chain store in Canada, has launched an online music store. We had a few of them already, but most were re-branded and based on Puretracks on the back end, and up until recently that meant DRM-laden WMA files. Puretracks has been transitioning over to MP3s, but I find their store cumbersome to use. HMV Digital on the other hand, reminds me a lot of Amazon.com's MP3 store - fast, fluid, and simple. The music is in 320kbps MP3 format, which is excellent, and most tracks are 99 cents with a few in the $1.29 range. Albums are in the $9.99 range, and you don't even have to install a downloader if you don't want to - the albums come down in a single ZIP file. And best of all? They allow you to re-download your purchases up to five times, so if you happen to have a data wipe-out, you can get your music from them again. I'm not sure how deep their catalogue goes, but for new releases, this is where I'm going to be doing my shopping. Nicely done HMV!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Canada Only: 8 GB Zune + Armband for $99 CAD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Events" @ 08:15 AM


Just a quick note for our Canadian readers: Future Shop is having a one-day online sale on the Zune, offering the 8 GB Zune in black, red, or blue for $99 CAD. Also included is a free armband and a $30 "song card" (not sure where that's from). Or, if you're interested in the black 16 GB, it's $50 off and selling for $159 today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Zune Offers Emerging Artists A Chance to Perform On the Zune Concert Series Stage at the 2009 TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Events" @ 12:39 PM


"Toronto, ON, March 11, 2009 - Beginning today, Zune Canada will conduct a month-long search to find Canada's hottest undiscovered band or artist to perform at the Zune Concert Series, Canada's biggest free outdoor music festival taking place April 17-26 during the 2009 TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival. As part of its commitment to emerging Canadian artists, Zune is supporting musicians working to break out and gain industry exposure with the Zune Concert Series Competition. Bands and artists are invited to upload an original music track at www.zune.ca to enter the competition. Music fans will be able to listen and rate selected tracks from participating bands, and have the chance to win a trip for two to see the selected band play live at the 2009 TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival."

As a former "professional" musician (I got paid for gigs I did when I was in a band, so I can technically say that, hehe) I'm always interested in seeing ways that aspiring bands can make it to the big time - because for all the bluster about the Internet "changing everything", many bands still need the muscle of a record label to get their music out to the general public. I've bought more music from bands I've heard on TV shows than I have of bands that I've discovered purely online. The fact that the winning band gets hooked up with a mentor is also pretty cool! The remainder of the press release is after the break. Read more...

Monday, June 23, 2008

And The Canadian Winner Is...

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Events" @ 09:15 PM

Our Canadian Zune launch contest is over, and the winner is Crafty501. Thanks to everyone for entering - I enjoyed reading about the Canadian artists that people enjoy listening to. Special thanks to the Canadian Zune team at Microsoft for donating this Zune Original to us for the contest. I haven't yet seen the Zune in any retail stores, but I haven't looked either. I've seen it promoted quite heavily via Future Shop and Best Buy though, and on the front page of Amazon.ca for a time.

Tags: canada

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Amazon.ca Lists Zunes for Pre-Sale...But Only Three of Them

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 12:41 PM


Amazon.ca is listing the Zune for pre-sale, showing the release date as tomorrow. Prices are at a slight premium over the US prices: the red Zune 8 is $179.00 CAD (versus $164 USD), and the two Zune 80 models are $259.99 CAD each (versus between $238 and $249 USD). What I find most interesting here is that Amazon only has the red Zune 8 - no other colours, and no Zune 4 models. Will they be getting more, or did they chose to go with the most popular models of the Zune and leave it at that?

Monday, November 19, 2007

An International Zune User's Guide (Updated)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 08:00 AM

This article has been updated as of April 2010 to include information on the Zune HD.

The world is a big place, full of people who love gadgets. When a company decides to release a piece of technology in a single country rather than a world-wide release, it never stops determined people from getting the technology. Like a modern-day Robin Hood, eBay is the primary conduit for re-distributing technology marvels from the "haves" to the "have-nots" (profit for the eBay seller is the motive, however). The Zune HD is one such product, released only in the US of A so far. I happen to live in Canada, and can't buy the Zune in my country, or use much of the online functionality - not without a little creativity that is. Welcome to the International Zune User's Guide: everything you need to know about being one of those clandestine folks acquiring and using a Zune HD in a country where Microsoft doesn't officially support you. Everything in this article is from the perspective of someone who lives in Canada, so there may be slight variations depending on where you are in the world.

Purchasing the Product

So you want to buy that shiny new Zune HD, only no retailer or online store in your country carries it. This is probably one of the easier problems to solve: find someone that will ship it to your country. The #1 place to look is eBay, because private sellers are often willing to ship elsewhere in the world in return for a healthy profit. This means you should expect to pay more than retail once all of the final shipping charges are calculated. If you live in Canada like I do, you're in luck: many US-based sellers will ship to Canada. Be wary of inflated shipping charges, though that's likely going to be the price you'll pay for getting it to you. Unfortunately I've seen many Zune HD ads where the seller will not ship outside North America: you'll have to search for sellers that are willing to ship to Canada/Europe/Asia/etc.

Figure 1: Mmm...the tasty Zune HD that Microsoft doesn't want you to buy.

Also be prepared to pay some sort of duty/import tax depending on where you live. If you happen to know someone who lives in the USA, this is the far better route: get them to buy if for you at retail, and ship it to you. You'll get the cheapest possible price overall, and your friend can mark the package with a lower-than-retail price. In Canada, if a product comes in via courier (UPS, FedEx, etc.) and the value is less than $20 CND, there's no brokerage fee. If the value is equal to $20 CND, the brokerage fees start at around $25 and go up from there. Have your friend mark the product as a "not for resale product sample", put a value of $10 on it, and you should be able to receive it without paying anything extra. If the product comes into Canada via the USPS (United States Postal Service), there are no brokerage fees regardless of the price listed: you'll just be paying GST and likely a $5 processing fee.

Zune Marketplace

OK, so you've got the hardware: now what? The Zune HD works great with all the music and content you have on your hard drive, but one of the strengths of the Zune HD(and the iPod for that matter) is that you can access huge online catalogs of music. The problem is, you can't buy those tracks if you live outside the USA. You can't even see the Marketplace tab in the software if your location is set to anything other than USA! It took me a lot of trial and error to figure this out, but I've figured it all out so you don't have to. If you have a Microsoft Passport account (Windows Live ID) associated with an Xbox Live account, it will have your credit card billing profile. You won't be able to use this account with the Zune Marketplace because the Zune Marketplace blocks purchases from credit cards that have non-US billing addresses. Every time I've tried I get an error stating that "Your credit card information is not valid. Please verify and try again." No amount if re-trying will get it accepted in my experience.

Figure 2: The Zune Marketplace that Microsoft doesn't want you to see or use.

The points you might have in your Xbox Live account won't be accessible to you in the Zune Marketplace - in fact, with the new Zune software when I tried to sign in with my "real" Passport account (the one associated with my Xbox Live account) it wouldn't even allow me to sign in, claiming that the "Zune Marketplace was unavailable". As you can tell, the Zune team has done almost everything in their power to block non-US based Zune owners from accessing Zune marketplace content. But where there's a will, there's a way. Follow these steps to get to near-Zune Marketplace bliss:

  1. Go to Passport.com and register a new Windows Live ID. Use any email address you want. When you're creating your profile, select your home country as the United States of America. Use any US address you want: if you have a sense of irony, use 1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA, 98052.
  2. You now have a "clean" Windows Live ID without associated credit card information that can be used in the Zune Marketplace - but you need points to do that. And, not surprisingly, you can't purchase points with a non-US credit card. What you need are Xbox Live Points Cards that are sold in the US. Point cards purchased in other countries are geographically linked to that country and are not compatible with the Zune Marketplace. You have two choices at this point: head over to eBay and purchase point cards from a US-based seller (you may want to confirm there are US-based points). The nice thing here is that many sellers will just email you the point codes, meaning they don't care if you're in Poland or the UK. Or, use that friend in the USA again to buy you a points card.
  3. Once you have the point card codes, open the Zune desktop software and log in with your new Windows Live ID. The software may complain about your location setting for your Windows Live ID not matching the location setting on your computer (see below). You'll need to exit the Zune software, go to your Control Panel > Region and Language > Location, and change the location to United States. Open the Zune desktop software and log back in.
  4. Go into Settings > Account > Redeem Code.
  5. Enter in the Xbox Live Points code(s) you have. Those points will be added to your account.
  6. Now giggle like a school-girl as you witness your account fill with points ready for spending. You can use these points to purchase music or music videos from the Zune marketplace, and they'll download and play back on your Zune without any problem.
  7. When you need more points, just repeat steps #2 through #5 again. If you're planning on buying a lot of music, you should probably purchase a few blocks of 4000 points (which cost around $60 USD at retail).

Figure 3: The error screen you'll see if your computer location doesn't match the Live ID location.


Friday, January 5, 2007

My Experience With Zune Support

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 08:00 AM

I had my first experience with Zune tech support on Tuesday, and overall it was a pretty good experience - here's what the techs had to say about each of my devices.

The Dusty White Zune: After we discussed the dust, and he saw a photo of it online at this site, the tech first suggested that I return the Zune to the retail store that I purchased it from. He said there was a two to three week wait on getting it repaired, and that returning it was easier. Not wanting to reveal I was in Canada just yet, I said that I had purchased the Zunes on November 14th, so it was unlikely that any store would take back a product two months old and exchange them. The tech insisted that many stores would. That's when I broke the news that I was in Canada and there was no place to return it to. He then agreed that shipping it back for repair was about the only option.

The Wonky Black Zune: I explained the problem, and the tech was quite surprised at the behaviour I was seeing. He suggested that it might be a software problem, so he had me do a hard reset, wiping out the content and restoring it to the 1.0 firmware (I think that's what was restored at any rate). I was dubious that would work, but it couldn't hurt to try. After the hard reset, he had me connect it to the Zune desktop software and re-flash it with the 1.2 firmware. The entire process was fast and easy, but at the end of it the problem still remained. He said I'd need to ship it back for repair/replacement. Read more...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Zunes Being Sold in Canada by TigerDirect

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 12:30 PM


"Yes! You can buy your Zune in Canada. Ok, you have to order it online, but it’s in Canada, with Canadian dollars and Canadian taxes. If you like the black Zune, the price is also excellent. Tigertdirect.ca is selling it for $269.97CAD. But the white and brown Zunes are more expensive and are going for $317.99CAD. We checked other online Canadian stores, like bestbuy.ca, amazon.ca, futureshop.ca, but none of them are selling the Zune yet. Obviously, they are not doing that with Microsoft agreement. But if you are Canada and you were going to order a Zune from the US anyway, this may be a good alternative for you."

Ok, I didn't see this one coming at all. I knew it was possible to order the Zune from eCost, who ships to Canada, but it ends up being quite expensive and a bit of a hassle. TigerDirect, on the other hand, is based in Canada and I order from them all the time. The brown Zune is $317.99, as is the white one, but the black is a bargain at only $269.97 Canadian. I brought back a brown Zune for my friend Matt, and it ended up costing him $314.96 Canadian by the time it was all said and done. I feel good then that, with GST (our tax here in Canada), the brown Zune would have cost $337 plus shipping...so he still got a good deal with me as his courier. If you're in Canada, and want a Zune, looks like here's your hookup!

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