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All posts tagged "windows phone 7"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Win an LG Quantum Windows Phone 7

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Events" @ 10:00 AM

Just a quick reminder that we're running a free phone give-away: there's an unlocked LG Quantum up for grabs. It's fast and easy to enter; all you need is a YouTube account. Check out this post for more details.

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.

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.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Windows Phone 7 Feature Availability Matrix, A.K.A. The Confusing Mess

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Articles & Resources" @ 12:08 PM


"Windows Phone 7 is available in many different countries across the world, but where you live depends on how much of the experience you are able to get. The 3 major features on the Windows Phone revolve around availability of online services and they are the Zune Marketplace, Xbox Live and Bing Local search. Microsoft has not made each of these 3 services available in every country that they are launching Windows Phone in and therefore have created a mess of what services are available on the phone in each country (with some countries even having partial access to some services)."

Although I'm enjoying using Windows Phone 7 for the most part, I start to get an angry twitch whenever I stop to think about how fractured the product experience is for people outside the USA. This isn't anything new - I've ranted about this on Zune Thoughts for years - but the core problem is still the same. If someone wants to buy a Windows Phone in Canada, they can't buy music from the Zune Marketplace. What kind of sense does that make then for them to use the Zune desktop software to manage their phone and media collection, but not be able to buy new music - and that's not even the Zune Pass, that's any music at all from Zune. I've heard for years how hard it is to negotiate rights in every country, etc., but at the end of the day it has to happen or the product isn't going to succeed. And the consumer doesn't care about what's hard or what's easy; they want a product that works for them. If Microsoft can't provide that, they'll go with someone that will.

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!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's the Future of Zune Hardware?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 04:14 PM


"With Windows Phone 7 finally out, what does the future hold for Microsoft's line of Zune media players? I suspect that very few people outside of Redmond are asking themselves that question right now-and that anybody who does care assumes that the Zune HD will turn out to be the final stand-alone Zune. (Like all the other Zunes before it, the HD suffered from a malady I like to think of as "Gee, this is quite a good product, but it's in a class of devices that people lost interest in a year ago" syndrome.) Me, I'm hoping for a new Zune soon-maybe several of them. Hold on, hear me out, I'm serious."

I've been muttering about this one for a while: if Microsoft doesn't come out with a media player that's basically a chassis 1 Windows Phone 7 without the phone, they're missing a vital opportunity. If they want to build an ecosystem, they need to both offers consumers connected and non-connected models, and they need to offer developers the most populated platform they can - everything possible capable of running their software. The Zune HD is a great device, but people want apps and enhanced functionality beyond just the basics, and the Zune HD can't deliver that right now (no, the 30 apps so far on the Zune HD really don't count - the damn thing still can't view YouTube videos).

One catch here is that the baseline Windows Phone 7 spec has a lot more ooomph than the Zune HD - a 1 Ghz processor and bigger, higher resolution screen won't come cheap - so if Microsoft can only offer this type of product at the $499 price point, well, that's going to fail...

Music Metadata: It's Here to Stay

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 01:00 PM

On a private mailing list I'm a part of, the issue of music metadata was brought up - specifically, that the Zune desktop and device software relies on metadata for everything, and if you're the kind of person who has a collection of digital music stretching back 10+ years, there's a good chance it's missing proper metadata. Many people have worked around that by organizing and playing back their music like they would a Word document; via the file system. This is a habit that you should seriously consider breaking, and I'll tell you why. Read more...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Official Windows Phone Connector for OS X

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Software" @ 05:56 PM


"Windows Phone 7 Connector is coming, for all you Windows Phone 7 obsessives stashing media on your previously incompatible OS X machine. No, it's not Zune for Mac, but it does get the job done: we've been testing it out over the last few days, so read on for our impressions."

As I suspected, 99% of the headlines out there over the past week the were proclaiming that the "Zune desktop software is coming to OS X" are flat-out wrong. It's amazing how people twist and conflate pieces of information. Anyway, if you're an OS X user and you want a simple way to get music, photos, and videos onto your Windows Phone 7 - the reviewer doesn't say whether it also works with the Zune...I'd like to think it does given the platform similarities, but I can't say for sure. The beta comes out October 24th, at which point I'll take it for a spin myself and see what works and what doesn't. What I don't understand is why Microsoft is being so coy about this - it's a pretty significant move!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Zune HD and Windows Phone Output Profile Now Included in Windows Live Movie Maker

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:22 AM

In 2008, I was involved in an early beta of the new Windows Live Movie Maker, and I interacted with a friendly Microsoft Product Manager for that program. When the Zune HD came out, I started a little email campaign to get Windows Live Movie Maker to support the Zune HD with an optimized output profile - I really wanted to see Microsoft support their own product.

If you look to the left, I've taken a screenshot of the Mobile Device output profiles from the new Windows Live Movie Maker beta (a.k.a. Wave 4), and wouldn't you know it, there are output profiles for the Zune HD device, and the Zune HD 720p profile, for video output via the dock. Sweet!

I'm not claiming credit for this of course - it wouldn't have been added unless many people asked for the same thing - but hopefully my attempts to connect the right person on the Zune team to the right person on the Windows Live Movie Maker team helped move things along. You'll also notice they've added two Windows Phone profiles - another great sign that the Windows Live Movie Maker team is paying attention to what the rest of Microsoft is doing, and making attempts to be in sync.

This has been a historic flaw of Microsoft's; previous versions of Windows Movie Maker were still using 320 x 240 Pocket PC profiles from five years ago. It's like no one on that team was told newer and better devices had come out, and they weren't called Pocket PCs any more.

Unfortunately, the Windows Live Photo Gallery team didn't get the memo - unless I'm mistaken, there's still no way to batch resize (or resize even one photo) to a Zune HD-sized screen or a Windows Phone screen. Since the Zune software will resize the photos upon sync for the Zune HD, this isn't much of a problem - but neither ActiveSync nor Windows Mobile Device Center will resize images today for Windows Phones, so this is a clear oversight. Guess I'll keep using Picasa for that! Read more...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What To Do About Zune?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 10:00 AM


"After almost four years, the standalone Zune player has something like 2 percent of the MP3 player market. Ballmer should face it: the iPod is unstoppable. But Microsoft already has a mobile-phone business--even if Windows Mobile is the Atari 2600 of mobile platforms, it still shipped on more than 15 million phones in 2008 and 2009, and the vastly improved Windows Phone 7 could help Microsoft double that number in 2011. Every Windows Phone 7 will have the full Zune HD interface built into it. Microsoft should market the heck out of this feature: the Zune HD is a better MP3 player than the iPod in many ways--wireless sync, the "now playing" queue and Quickplay feature, the Zune Pass all-you-can-eat subscription service, cool rolling displays of album and artist art, and better PC software. I'm willing to bet that phones running Windows Phone 7 will be better MP3 players than the iPhone, too."

As a longtime Zune owner, it pains me to admit that the product hasn't sold as well as it probably should have. With the single-function form factor on the way out, will a strong integration with Windows Phone 7 be enough to stave off tough competition from Apple? There's no doubt that the Zune HD interface is both beautiful and perfectly optimized for touch, and in a way it has served as a testing ground for some of the UI conventions within Windows Phone 7. With wireless syncing, the "pins" metaphor, and of course the Zune Pass, the Zune HD is in many ways a stronger media player than the iPod Touch. Putting this combination into every WP7 device will certainly shake up expectations of cell phone media players, but will people be willing to fork over another $10 or $15 for a Zune Pass on top of their monthly cell bill? Rosoff brings up the old "sure you could pay $3000 for 3000 songs, or just $15 a month" as a possible marketing tactic, but Zune has gone there before to no effect. There's little doubt that Zune on WP7 can be a winner, the question is whether they can execute on it and if this will be enough to save Zune.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yours Truly Chats with Ian Dixon on The Media Center Show

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Talk" @ 01:30 PM


A week or two ago, I spent an hour chatting with Ian Dixon from The Media Center Show, and today he's published the podcast. I really enjoy being a guest on a podcast because expressing myself - hopefully intelligibly - is something I enjoy, but I don't particularly want to tackle the work involved in producing a regular podcast. If you have a podcast, and you'd like to have me on as a guest to discuss, well, pretty much anything, drop me a line.

In this episode, Ian and I talk about the Zune HD, Windows phone 7, and the way these two products intersect - as well as my prediction that 2010 is going to be a great year for Microsoft because all of their different assets (Xbox, Zune, mobile, Live) will finally come together the right way.

Have a listen and tell me what you think!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Won't Kill Zune HD... Yet

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 07:57 PM


"[W]ith the impending release of the Windows Phone 7 Series, which will include full Zune HD functionality in its "Music + Video" hub, I've begun to wonder if Microsoft will phase out the Zune as a standalone music player. Here's one clue: Microsoft developer Michael Klucher on Tuesday put up a blog post about the upcoming XNA Game Studio 4.0. Thus far, XNA Game Studio has been primarily used to develop casual games for the Xbox 360 and, more recently, to create games for the Zune HD. ... Long story short, Klucher confirmed that XNA Game Studio 4.0 will support game development on Windows Phone 7 Series phones, but not on the Zune HD."

Well that's a kicker. Microsoft really isn't going to roll out the Zune HD app plan like they said they would? It's hard to see a silver lining in what is essentially Microsoft cutting off any hopes of a Zune HD app store, at least for this generation. Microsoft's Klucher confirmed that current XNA 3.1 code will continue to work with the device, but the features in XNA 4.0, like 3D APIs, Xbox Live integration, and the cool cross-platform Windows/Xbox/WinPhone7 game porting won't be coming. There's talk of a Zune HD2 in the works, which would follow Apple's lead in providing an experience similar to WinPhone7 without a cellular radio (i.e. iPhone to iPod Touch), but Microsoft has made no announcements yet. Personally, I prefer having a dedicated device for music and video, rather than feeling like they're tacked on as an application which needs to be loaded each time I search for a song, but it appears that device convergence is the direction the market is heading.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Zune HD Facebook App is Finally Working for Me

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:04 PM

As of last night, the Zune HD Facebook app was still busted for me - updates not loading, news feeds not loading, etc. This morning, surprisingly, it all started to work - without a new version of the app. That tells us that it wasn't a problem with the application itself - which I guessed at - but instead a problem with Facebook itself, or something between Facebook and the Zune HD application. The Zune team has made some vague statements about Zune and Facebook engineers addressing the problem, but they've provided no details about what actually went wrong. Regardless of whose fault it was, or why this happened in the first place, it's unfortunate to see the Zune HD getting more bad press related to apps - and this is the second botched app release in a row now, after the Twitter curse-word blow-up (which most people made into a bigger deal than it really was).

Ultimately this highlights again how broken the Zune team's approach to apps is: they can't continue to release apps one by one, relying on internal resources to build up their app selection. The only thing that makes any sense is to open up the Zune HD to third-party developers, give them the ability to make money in a marketplace, and let them have it it. I suspect we'll hear some good news on this front when MIX10 happens in a couple of weeks - the root problem here is that Zune HD app plan was out of sync with the Windows phone 7 series app plan, and the only thing that makes any sense is for them to come together into one big happy "develop for our two device type" family. Guess we'll have to wait and see!

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