Zune Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

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All posts tagged "software"

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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zune Client Updated, Ready for Mangoey Goodness

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 12:00 PM


"Microsoft released a new version of the Zune software client today. This incremental update brings the version number up to 4.8 and adds support for Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” handsets. The Zune software and services are also available in a wider selection of countries, including Canada and Australia. Interestingly, Zune Pass has been renamed to Zune Music Pass. Could an all-you-can-eat video subscription service be coming in the near future? We hope so. A video subscription service has been rumored for a long time, and it would make the Zune service even more compelling on the PC, Zune devices, Windows Phone, and Xbox."

Hot and fresh, the Zune 4 .8 update is out with support for the new generation of Windows Phone 7.5 (a.k.a. Mango) phones, and bumps up the number of supported languages in the software to 22 languages. The software is available to download in 39 countries, but the confusing array of international availability hasn't been remedied much in this release. There were signs a few weeks ago of the Marketplace expanding to countries beyond US and Western Europe but they're conspicuously absent in this release (although they should still be coming soon). Also added is 48-hour movie rentals, a streamlined update and sync/backup experience, and an option to see what apps are compatible with your phone before you buy them. In all a relatively minor update but certainly welcome to Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" users.

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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Zune HD is Dead. Long Live the Zune HD!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 11:22 AM

There have been a few updates in the world of Zune over the past week or so.

First, Microsoft has discontinued Zune Originals. That's right, no more custom Zune HDs are available for order. I did a little eye-roll when this happened, because I wanted a 64 GB Zune HD but was waiting for the price to drop a little more. Looks like I waited too long! The Zune Originals Web site says to go look for a Zune HD at Best Buy or Wal-mart, but good luck with that. Zune all but died at retail a long time ago.

In the same week, the Zune team released nine new Zune HD apps, along with updates for a few older apps. Anythingbutipod has the full breakdown on the new apps. I'm in Canada, and despite the announcement two full months ago about the Zune HD apps coming to Canada, I'm still seeing this ugly error when I try to browse the Zune HD apps in the marketplace:

Lastly, there's software update for the Zune HD that takes it from 4.5 Build 109 to 4.5 Build 114. I have no idea what it adds or changes, because Microsoft doesn't release changelogs about the update.

It baffles me as to why Microsoft continues to release apps for a product they've ignored and marginalized in an epic way. I mean, what's the point?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Zunepass To Be Made Available In More Countries

Posted by Richard Chao in "Windows Phone News" @ 08:00 PM


"Joe Belfiore (Corporate Vice President of WP) mentioned, while enjoying the Mango Twitter integration, that there are plans in the works to expand the Zune services along with speech and more."

According to a tweet by Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, Zunepass and a few other Windows Phone 7 services will soon be available in a few more countries. This is good new as Windows Phone adoption rate hasn't exactly been stellar. Hopefully the availability of more Windows Phone 7 services in additional countries will be able to spur more interest in the platform.

For you users that are not in the US/UK, what services would you like to see?

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...

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 anythingbutiphone.com

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.

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?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Email Client for Zune HD Now Available, Plus New Game

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

I can't be bothered right now to jump through the inane hoops that the Zune team demands for me to grab these new 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 - but according to Zunited, there's an email application, a tower-defence style game called BBQ Battle, and an updated Facebook app. Go grab 'em if they sound interesting and report back.

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.

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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Zune HD Apps Showing Up Today

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 02:25 PM


Some new apps coming your way today - Zune Reader, Album Shuffle, and Penalty. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: The apps are ready for download where I am, so I've snagged them, but I can't share screenshots because the screenshots are blank in the Marketplace. It's weird.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Microsoft Releases Windows Phone 7 Connector on the Mac App Store

Posted by Darius Wey in "Apple Software (OS X)" @ 08:48 PM


"Windows Phone 7 Connector is a simple, easy-to-use application designed to sync your favorite media files from your Mac, with your Windows Phone 7 or Zune HD. You can also sync photos and videos you captured on your phone with your Mac, and when needed, update your Windows Phone 7 software."

Microsoft has released v1.0 of Windows Phone 7 Connector to the masses, while exploring new territory by releasing it on the Mac App Store. It's a free app that lets you connect your Windows Phone 7 device or Zune HD to your Mac, sync your music, videos, and podcasts from iTunes and your photos to and from iPhoto, and even download and install the latest Windows Phone 7 updates as they're made available. Alas, there's no option to browse the Marketplace, but at least this is better than nothing, right? Scoot off to the App Store and grab it today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Zune Software Update: What's New?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 08:50 AM

I noticed that in the Patch Tuesday update - which I happen to be installing today - there's an update for the Zune desktop software. There's no information about what this update brings to the table that I can find - anyone know what's new? It's still version 4.7, so I suspect the changes are minor...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Zune HD Games & Apps Released

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 11:56 AM

Last week, a series of new games and app updates were released to the Zune Marketplace for your Zune HD:

  • Snowball
  • Finger Physics
  • Tiki Totems
  • A Beanstalk Tale
  • Alarm Clock
  • Facebook (Updated)
  • Twitter (Updated)

For anyone keeping track, that's 27 games and 12 communication/entertainment/other - for a grand total of 39 apps. My general feeling is, why bother? I don't think 39 free apps are going to sway people who are looking for a device with apps - they're going to go for an iPod Touch. It's nice that they're all free, but in the end, I'd prefer to see effort spend on the device and desktop software that would improve upon the things that we bought a Zune HD for in the first place: media consumption.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trouble Installing Zune 4.7 Software? Try a Manual Download

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

I've just spent the past 10 minutes fighting with the installation of the Zune 4.7 desktop software on one of my computers; the upgrade, which comes via Windows Update, worked smoothly on all of my other computers, but on this one computer, it kept failing. More irritatingly, the URL the Zune software installer gives me for more information isn't neither clickable, nor is it possible to copy and paste it. I attempted the first install, and when it failed, I rebooted my PC and tried again. It failed again. I rebooted again, and this time I went to Zune.net and downloaded the 4.7 software directly - and the install worked. A bit odd! I had hoped the Zune software had evolved beyond the point of random install failures, but it seems it still has a way to go yet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Zune HD Apps Availabile

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 11:43 AM

Hey Zune Thoughts readers, I'm phoning this one in since I'm frantically working on something else right now: if you fire up the Zune Marketplace, you'll find a few new apps: Drum Machine (yes, it's a software drum machine), a word game called Tiles, and a game called Hairball. There's also supposed to be an updated version of the Windows Live Messenger app, though I don't see it yet in the Marketplace.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Zune Desktop Software Client Update to 4.7

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 10:20 AM


Today is Windows Phone 7 launch day, and as such, there's a new Zune desktop client ready for you to download; it's version 4.7, and it brings with it a lot of user interface tweaks. I've just installed it and am checking it out now...and I'm seeing more than a few ugly surprises. Here's the official word from the Zune's PR people:

"As you may know, the Zune experience is built directly into the Music+Video hub on every Windows Phone 7, providing a great media experience on the handsets for personal media collection playback, as well as the ability to stream millions of songs wirelessly with a Zune Pass subscription in the US, UK, France, Italy and Spain. In addition, the Zune software will serve as the Windows-based PC sync client for the handsets allowing a user to manage and transfer their media between PCs and Windows Phone 7 handsets.

In support of the forthcoming availability of Windows Phone 7, we are beginning to roll out the updated Zune PC software (version 4.7) today. Zune PC software will be available to download for free from Zune.net. By having access to the software now, consumers around the world can familiarize themselves with all that Zune has to offer and get ready for Windows Phone 7.

The Zune PC software provides a best-in-class experience to manage, discover and enjoy digital media with a variety of exclusive features including new enhancements such as:

• First Connect: provides a simple out-of-the box experience for Windows Phone 7 customers with automatic updates to Zune content upon initial connection

• HD Streaming Video: enables instant-on HD video streaming available on your Windows-based PC for many rented and purchased videos

• Photo Sync: allows a smoother process for transferring photos from a Windows Phone to your Windows-based PC

• Sync Media: lets users purchase music and videos through Windows Phone 7 and sync content with their Windows-based PC

• Parental Controls & Rating on Videos: gives parents more control of available content streamed or downloaded to a phone

Additionally, customers in the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain will also be able to use the Zune software to access the Zune Marketplace - a one stop shop for music, videos and more. Customers in the UK, France, Italy and Spain will also be able to subscribe to Zune Pass for £8.99/9.99 to get unlimited downloads and streaming access to the Zune music catalogue using the Zune PC software.

For more information around the international availability of Zune services, click here. For more information on the new Zune PC software, please visit www.zune.net"

More to come...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Windows Live Messenger, and Three New Games, Make it to the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 04:06 PM

The slow but steady trickle of Zune HD apps continues; if you look in the Zune Marketplace, you'll find a brand new Windows Live Messenger application ready for download. You'll also find three new games: WordMonger, Dr. Optics Light Lab, and Castles and Canons. If you're a Zune HD customer, this added value is pretty cool. If you're a Zune fan like me though, the app strategy on the Zune HD continues to be a frustrating puzzle. Screen shots of all three games after the break. Read more...

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