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All posts tagged "microsoft"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Xbox Live Coming to Windows 8

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:56 PM


The above image is from someone's Flickr account, so I'm not sure if it's real, but Engadget is reporting that Xbox Live is coming to Windows 8. This is impressive - between the Xbox hooked up to a TV, a Windows Phone, and Windows 8 on a PC or tablet, Microsoft has a three-screens entertainment strategy that can actually compete with Apple's iTunes ecosystem. Not bad Microsoft, not bad at all. Note that there's no word "Zune" anywhere in that screen shot, or on the Engadget one. That reinforces to me that the Zune brand is on the way out...but I wonder what they'll re-brand the awesome desktop software to? Xbox doesn't make sense as a media player brand - well, not to me at least.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zune Branding Gone From New Xbox 360 Dashboard

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 07:00 PM


Paul Thurrot called out the elephant in the room: there's no trace of Zune branding anywhere that we can see on the new Xbox 360 dashboard design. It's simply "music" and "video" now. Frankly, that makes sense - it's a bit of nonsense that we need to go into the Zune interface to watch videos...

It seems pretty clear that the Zune as a device is dead, and as a service, it's on the way out. Quite a shame really...

Friday, December 31, 2010

What The Geeky Got for Gifts

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 05:30 PM


"If you got an iPad as a gift during the holidays, you certainly weren't alone. In a recent poll of holiday gift recipients, iPads accounted for a full 22.7% of all gadget or hardware gifts, making iPads the single largest category in our gift poll, outstripping the nearest runner-up by nearly 14% of votes. That runner-up was Amazon's Kindle - not surprising considering that the Kindle is the best-selling product in Amazon's history."

It's a relatively small sampling size - less than 2400 votes, and only from people who read Mashable - but among the geek-set, there are a couple of stand-out points: the iPad was the #1 gift, more people got Macs (60%) than Windows machines (40%), Android phones let the way in the smartphone category with a hefty 50.3% figure (iPhones were 30%), but Windows Phone 7 devices at 10.3% just eeked out Blackberry devices (9.4%). Not bad for a brand new platform that most people still haven't heard about! Lastly, the Xbox/Kinect one-two punch clobbered the PS3 with a 54.3% figure versus only 11.9% for the PS3. The Kinect really is driving the Xbox 360 to new heights of popularity!

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, June 28, 2010

Demo of the Kinect + Zune Integration

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 04:00 PM

Curious about how the Xbox 360 Zune software will work with the forthcoming Kinect accessory? Check out the video above - it looks pretty cool, all in all, but I was dismayed at how long it took the Zune software to start up - did they take notes from the Zune HD team on application load times? BA-DA-DA! Thanks, I'm here all week. Seriously though, I hope that's beta code, because the start up time shown in the video sucks.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Apple Ousts Microsoft as Technology Company with the Biggest Market Cap

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


"In the less-than-three months since Apple first passed Wal-Mart to hold the third highest market capitalization among U.S. companies, Apple's stock price has continued to increase while second-place Microsoft has seen its shares drift downward. The combination of events has quickly closed the gap between the two companies, and today Apple finally surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization for the first time in 20 years, although second-by-second fluctuations currently see the two companies frequently swapping positions."

This happened two days ago, but the results are still basically the same: Apple is now worth more than Microsoft. Looking back a decade or so, I doubt anyone could have predicted this - Apple was on the verge of going bankrupt, and Microsoft had more money than they knew what to do with. Microsoft is still worth a great deal in terms of market cap, but so is Apple. Personally, the stock market puzzles me - it's irrational and often ignorant. Microsoft posted some stunning results last quarter, earning a huge bump in profit, and their stock barely blipped. Not a great time to be a Microsoft shareholder (which I am, in a small way).

It's Official Robbie Bach and J Allard are Stepping Down

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 04:00 PM

I posted about this rumour recently, but now it's official: J Allard has left he building...although it seems he's going to be sticking around a little bit, working on special projects for Steve Ballmer. Robbie Bach, on the other hand, is full-on retiring and leaving Microsoft. Bach has worked at Microsoft for 22 years, a long time in the tech industry. Who's stepping in to fill the voice? No one for now:

"Underscoring the strength of the leadership teams in place for the entertainment and mobile businesses, the company announced that Senior Vice President Don Mattrick will continue to lead the Interactive Entertainment Business and Senior Vice President Andy Lees will continue to lead the Mobile Communications Business. Each will report directly to CEO Steve Ballmer effective July 1."

Ballmer says that Bach just wanted to retire - it's not a reflection of his performance. J Allard wrote a really great letter about his time at Microsoft - it's worth reading, but this one quote really stood out to me:

"Please, put my headcount and that cardkey "invitation" to good use. Find a college student that claims we don't get it and blogs tirelessly about our lack of agility. Track down an EE that has been focusing on fuel cells and has radical thoughts about power management. Or a social networking whiz who is tired of building little islands that go hot and cold and can't break the mainstream. Hire a designer who's given shape to 2 decades of beautiful automobiles and thinks we can sculpt technology to better connect to users. Infuse them with our purpose. Give them the tools. Give them lots of rope. Learn from them. Support where they take you. Invite them to redefine The Tribe."

I couldn't agree more. If anything has been shown by the past few years of Microsoft's performance in the mobile space, they need to bring in more fresh blood, with fresh ideas, and continue to agitate and move the company forward. Zune is still a USA-only product, Microsoft has no OS capable of running on thin and light tablets, and Windows Phone 7 is long overdue. Microsoft is in a rough spot with all things mobility. Good thing the Xbox 360 and Windows 7 rock!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Has J Allard Left Microsoft?

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


"Over the past month or so, I've been asking around about Allard's whereabouts. One of my sources who has been a pretty reliable tipster in the past told me that Allard is on sabbatical and is unlikely to return to Microsoft. His name is still in the Global Address Book inside Microsoft, I hear, and his bio page is still unaltered on the Microsoft Corporate Web site, where he still is listed as Chief Experience Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Entertainment and Devices Division."

The rumour mill is saying that J Allard has left Microsoft - and possibly over the fate of the now-dead Courier project. If it's true that he left Microsoft, it bodes ill for the company. Products are rarely truly created by one person, but teams and divisions of people can certainly be inspired by one person. Microsoft isn't typically known for having very creative, boundary-pushing people working for them, but J Allard was both of those. If he's really gone, I truly wonder what the devices and entertainment division - which includes Windows Phone, Xbox, and Zune - is going to do.

[Silly side note: my one and only J Allard moment was when I walked past him going into a bathroom at the Microsoft campus, inside the old Zune team building...and he happened to have a broken arm in a cast at the time. Memories, meeeemories...]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Microsoft Doesn't Want Apps for the Zune HD?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:38 PM


"The current version of the XNA Game Studio suite (3.1) allows developers to build games that can run on Windows PCs, Xbox 360 and Zune media player devices. Version 4.0 is going to support Windows PCs, Xbox 360 consoles and Windows Phone 7 Series phones (but not the Zune HD), according to a blog post by Michael Klucher, Lead Program Manger for the XNA Development Platform."

OK, this is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. What I thought was going to happen was that when the Windows phone 7 ecosystem kicked off at the end of this year, we'd see a Windows Marketplace for Mobile that would address both the Windows phone 7 users and the Zune HD users. In fact, the millions of Zune HDs out there would serve as a good base for developers to code for. Instead, it's looking like XNA Game Studio Suite 4.0 isn't going to allow the Zune HD as a target platform...so now I'm completely confused. Microsoft doesn't want apps for the Zune HD? Or their plan is to continue the painfully slow process of building their app catalog one app at a time, all developed internally?

Or is it that second-generation Zune HD (presumably coming out in the fall of this year) will have a bigger screen running at WVGA resolution (800 x 480) and essentially be a Windows phone 7 without the phone components? And that's what Microsoft wants developers to code for - but not the Zune HD. If so, that sort of sucks - that leaves all the current Zune HD owners out in the cold in terms of apps. Is that really Microsoft's plan? What do you think?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Could Microsoft Be Ditching the Points System?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM


"Xbox Live deserves praise as a service, but being the standard for which other online gaming services are judged means its flaws come under repeated scrutiny -- for good reason. It's why I always find myself asking Microsoft executives a couple of the same questions whenever I'm given the opportunity to sit down with them: why is there a friends cap on Xbox Live and when will the entire service allow me to pay for content in real-world dollar amounts, rather than confusing Microsoft Points?"

Where do you guys stand on the issue of points? I'm not as negative on them as some people - I'm fine paying 800 points for an Xbox Arcade game, largely because I have no frame of reference for the cost. Interestingly, I found points to be very frustrating when deciding to rent SD and HD video downloads - I know how much a DVD or Blu-ray rental costs at my local video store, so having to fire up a Web browser to calculate how much a video downloads costs ticked me off. I like the idea of micro-transactions for game content, but think that it could co-exist alongside all the other content (songs, videos, games) being in dollar amounts. Any changes made to Xbox Live would rippled down to the Zune Marketplace. What's your take?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Microsoft at CES: Watch the Keynote Live at 6:30 PM (PST)

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home Events" @ 09:00 AM


"Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, and Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices Division, deliver the pre-show keynote address in Las Vegas to kick off the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Coverage begins on Jan. 6, 2010, at approximately 6:30 p.m. PST with the live, streaming keynote. The Microsoft 2010 CES Newsroom will be updated throughout CES with the latest news, videos, photos and press information from Microsoft and its partners."

CES is here! Tune in to the live webcast at 6:30 PM (PST) today (world times listed below) as Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach talk the latest and greatest in Windows 7, Office, Windows Live, Windows Mobile, Xbox, Zune, and other consumer technologies. But if you'd rather digest it all in one hit, keep your eyes peeled for our post-keynote report.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle: Wednesday, 6:30 PM
  • Chicago, Houston: Wednesday, 8:30 PM
  • New York, Washington, DC: Wednesday, 9:30 PM
  • London: Thursday, 2:30 AM
  • Paris, Berlin: Thursday, 3:30 AM
  • Moscow: Thursday, 5:30 AM
  • Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Perth: Thursday, 10:30 AM
  • Tokyo: Thursday, 11:30 AM
  • Sydney, Melbourne: Thursday, 1:30 PM
  • Auckland: Thursday, 3:30 PM

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Matt Asay Wonders If Steve Ballmer Is To Blame

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


"Microsoft is in significant disarray, fettered by its destkop dominance as the world goes mobile. Would this have happened anyway, or is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to blame? Ballmer, after all, knows how to sing to developers, but he doesn't really speak their language. Former Microsoft CEO and co-founder Bill Gates did. Now, more than ever, Microsoft needs to get in front of developers but finds itself playing catch-up."

Matt Asay has posted an article on CNET about the future of Microsoft, and whether he thinks Microsoft has lost it's way since Bill Gates left the company and Steve Ballmer took over.  It's an interesting opinion and one that does raise some valid points. I personally feel that Microsoft is stuck in a rut and is not adapting quickly enough to the way technology is changing and in particular, the way we users are using that technology.  Windows Mobile is a good example of how Microsoft have fallen behind, and how developers are now focusing their efforts on iPhone apps and Android apps. What about the desktop, will that go the same way?  Does Steve Ballmer have the same creativity and vision that Bill Gates had? With Microsoft under attack from the likes of Apple and Google, is he the right man to lead the battle? What do you think? Do you think that like Apple, Microsoft should entice their talisman, Bill Gates, back to try and drive Microsoft forward?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Windows 7 Market Share After One Month Surpasses Entire Apple OS X Installed Base

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 AM


"Windows 7 passed the 5% market share milestone last weekend, which put it, if only temporarily, above the total market share of all versions of Apple's Mac OS X, a Web measurement firm said today. Last Saturday and Sunday, Windows 7 powered an estimated 5% and 5.14% of all computers that were online those days, according to Internet metrics vendor Net Applications. The two-day average of 5.07% was higher than the 5% of the market that Net Applications said Apple's operating system averaged for the week of Nov. 15-21."

This is a welcome reality check. I know that Apple has tremendous mind-share because they spend an ungodly amount of money on prime-time TV advertising telling us how much Windows "sucks", but at the end of the day only 5 out of 100 computers on this planet are Macs running OS X. The market share for Windows that same week was 92.64%. The numbers say a lot - and no amount of reality-distortion field spinning is going to change that. Macs might be the perfect computing solution for some people, but they're not a mass-market product, no matter how hard the Mac faithful want to believe that.

There's also a weird reality distortion bubble in the media - many people in the media/blogging tech world use Macs. A far higher percentage than the rest of the world; just look at figure 2 in this article. I don't know whether it's techno-savvy people who got sick of Windows, or the uber-geek's desire to try the next shiny and new thing, but at many tech events I'm in the minority using a Windows laptop. At that Mobius event OS X had 53% market share; in the rest of the world, 5%. Funny things can happen when you get a bunch of Mac users in the room: they think their platform always matters, even when it doesn't. Sounds harsh, right? Let me explain. Read more...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Games Released for the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 11:09 AM

This morning six new games (well, five games and one app) were added to the Zune Marketplace for Zune HD owners:

Audiosurf Tilt: Audiosurf creates a rollercoaster ride from any song. Choose any song from your music collection and watch Audiosurf turn it into a unique roller coaster track for you to ride. The song you choose determines the shape, the speed, and the mood of each track. Tilt your Zune like a steering wheel to collect colored blocks and avoid speedbumps. Unlock more than 30 designs, each with its own special theme and color palette.

Checkers: Enjoy the classic game of Checkers in a beautiful outdoor park setting. Play against the computer or against a friend.

Lucky Lanes Bowling: Bowl in different game modes: exhibition, blackjack, golf. Play in five different bowling alleys with unique themes, all with the swipe of a finger. Choose from twenty different bowlers and twenty two different ball styles. You can play against the computer or play with up to four friends.

Piano: Play your own tune, or play along with your favorite music on this electronic piano.

Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition: Tear through the streets of London, Tokyo, and New York in the Ferrari of your choice using multi touch controls and the built in accelerometer.

Vans Sk8: Pool Service: From the Admiral to the old abandoned rec center pool, Bucky Lasek and Omar Hassan know a good bowl to skate. Hit the pools and put these Vans skaters to the test with all the tricks in their bag and achieve hero status once you unlock their pro model skateboards.

The games still have those silly ads in front of them - I can't imagine Microsoft is making any significant money off of the ads, so I have to wonder why they exist in the first place. The app story on the Zune HD isn't a good one, so every barrier Microsoft puts in front of Zune HD customers (or reviewers) makes a bad story worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see these apps released, but there's still no open marketplace for developers to sell and give away their creations. The Zune HD isn't going to take off as an app platform until that happens. Microsoft is planning to release a Facebook and Twitter application, so that will please some people, but until they really allow the Zune HD to blossom as an application platform, this luke-warm app experience isn't going to lure people away from the iPod Touch. And the whole "12 seconds to start the calculator" thing has got to get fixed as well - I don't want to show apps to anyone on my Zune HD because that's just embarrassing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Impressions of the Engadget Show with Steve Ballmer

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Digital Home Events" @ 06:03 AM


Yesterday afternoon I witnessed a great interview between Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, and Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief of gadget blog Engadget. The event of course celebrated the launch of Windows 7, but Windows Mobile (6.5 and 7), Zune HD, and Microsoft’s cloud computing initiatives were all hot topics, and each were discussed at some length. Read more...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Microsoft's Fall Lineup & Strategy Showed Off At Manhattan Open House

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Digital Home Events" @ 09:40 PM

Microsoft's "Open House" party at the Armory in uptown Manhattan last week was meant to serve as a "coming out" of sorts. The Microsoft brand for the first time in a while seems to be regaining ground lost after high-profile marketing failures like Windows Vista and lackluster mobile device sales. Now, Windows 7 is getting rave reviews even ahead of its release, Zune HD is a critic's darling, and the Xbox 360 is selling like never before. While these individual products have gained success on their own, they have so far failed to lift Microsoft to the same level of brand unity that competitors like Apple and Google have enjoyed. The event therefore was intended to show the connection between their many interests and reinforce Microsoft's commitment to its "three screens and the cloud" strategy. Did it succeed? Well, yes and no.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Microsoft Axes Musiwave

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


"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 15, 2009

Microsoft Introduces a Powerful New Zune Media Player, PC Software and Online Services

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 12:01 AM

Here it is, the official press release for the launch of the Zune HD. This is the first piece of a lot of great content I've got planned for you today Zune Thoughts readers. The wait is over - the Zune HD is here!

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 15, 2009 Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s end-to-end digital entertainment service and media player, today announced significant advancements for consumers. The new Zune HD touch-screen media player is now available at retail, and a powerful update to the Zune PC software is free for download. For the first time, standard- and high-definition (HD) movies can be purchased or rented1 through the Zune Marketplace online store, and a new streaming music service on Zune.net lets Zune Pass subscribers listen to music from a Web browser. The updates to the Zune hardware, software and online services released today, combined with a new Zune video offering on Xbox LIVE coming later this fall, bring customers instant access to their favorite music and videos anywhere,2 across their mobile device, PC and TV.

“With today’s announcement, the Zune business is growing into a comprehensive entertainment service that’s no longer tied to any one screen or device,” said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the TV, Video and Music Business at Microsoft. “Zune lets consumers connect to their music, TV shows and movie content and enjoy it on the three screens they use every day.”

Zune HD: Next-Generation Digital Entertainment

Zune HD marks a significant step forward for portable media players, combining powerful hardware components such as an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) multitouch screen, an NVIDIA Tegra HD processor and HD Radio capabilities with software advancements such as the new Quickplay menu, a well-featured Web browser, and engaging music and video playback features to deliver a new portable listening and viewing experience. Quickplay is a new signature menu for Zune, putting customers one touch away from the content they love, such as favorites, last played items and media most recently added, eliminating the need to dig through menus to find the music, videos, pictures or podcasts they want. Read more...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reactions of a Zune Fan to the September 2009 iPod Announcements

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:33 PM

Because I'm sitting here watching the superb gdgt coverage of the Apple iPod event, I figured I might as well multi-task and jot down some point form reactions and thoughts on what I'm reading. It's important to understand what "the other guys" are up to - that's the main reason why I bought an iPod Touch earlier this year; I wanted to understand how the App Store worked, to see how good the browser was, and to get experience using the on-screen keyboard. Here are my reactions to today's Apple event, in chronological order:

  • Good to hear Steve Jobs is healthy - organ donation is so important. I've signed my organs away if something happens to me, and you should too. If you're dead, they won't do you any more good, so why not share?
  • 1.8 billion applications downloaded - that's a huge, impressive number. Apps matter. Microsoft has always said that software matters, but they've historically done a poor job of showing that on Windows Mobile and the Zune. They're finally getting rolling with a Windows Mobile app store, but apps on the Zune are still a bit of a question mark. Sure, we've had a couple games since the last generation units, but no cohesive plan on Microsoft's part to roll out a Zune games store, or to sync up with what the Xbox guys are doing.
  • iTunes is in 23 countries. The Zune Marketplace is in one. Microsoft's US-centric approach with the Zune is maddening...I thought there was some light at the end of the tunnel when they launched the Zune in Canada last year, but we never got the Zune Marketplace here, and now the devices being sold here are being killed off. "Disaster" is a good word for how well the Zune launch went in Canada. Between the Zune HD being US-only at launch, and all of the IP-based geographic blocking madness that the Zune software and Web site does, it's like the Zune team is doing everything they can to alienate everyone in the world outside the US. More after the break. Read more...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zune Executive Chris Stephenson Leaves Microsoft

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 08:09 PM


"With less than three weeks before Microsoft launches another salvo in digital music players, the marketing executive overseeing the company's Zune device is headed for the exit. Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune, is leaving the company to take a position at Universal Music Group, according to people familiar with the matter. One of these people said Mr. Stephenson will become chief marketing officer at Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M Records after Labor Day, reporting to the label's chairman Jimmy Iovine."

I had a chance to meet Chris Stephenson at the MVP Summit earlier this year, and he seemed like a guy that knew his stuff - but it's hard to know how his leaving the Zune team will impact the group. He would have been instrumental in shipping the Zune HD, so him leaving at the end of a major project but before the next one really spins up is probably as close to perfect timing as you can get. Who will step in to take his place? Hopefully someone that can steer the Zune team toward real success against the iPod - and maybe someone who has the boldness to implement features that the iPod doesn't have (removable storage slot, Bluetooth for headphones, removable battery, etc.).

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