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All posts tagged "zune"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Zune Music Pass Launches In Australia

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune News" @ 05:40 PM

Oh, yes, fellow Aussies. You'd better believe it. The Zune Music Pass has finally launched in Australia, which means 13 million songs and unlimited music video streaming are now at your fingertips on the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, PC, and web. You can get started now with a free 14-day trial; then, if it's to your liking, continue your subscription for $11.99 AUD per month, or go all out with an annual pass that nets you twelve months for the price of ten. Happy listening!

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.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Selena Gomez To Help Celebrate Microsoft Store Opening With Free Concert

Posted by Richard Chao in "Windows Phone News" @ 11:30 PM

"When we open our Microsoft Store in South Coast Plaza, get there early to score tickets to the special performance by actress of Disney's Emmy- Award-winning Wizards of Waverly Place and platinum recording artist Selena Gomez! Selena takes the stage on Saturday, March 26th at 2 PM to help us celebrate our newest store."

There is now more information available regarding the upcoming grand opening of the South Coast Plaza Microsoft Store in Costa Mesa, California. The store will have its grand opening on March 24th and is located near Theory. The mall door next to the Microsoft Store will open at 6AM for people to line up. The grand opening itself will be at 9:30AM. To celebrate the opening, Microsoft will be holding a concert on March 26th with Selena Gomez as the musical artist.

The first 150 people in line on March 24th will get two tickets to concert plus get a chance to meet Selena. The next 800 people will also get a pair of tickets and get to walk the red carpet. Gift bags will also being handed out on grand opening day. For more details regarding the grand opening and concert click the read link.

Friday, October 22, 2010

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...

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 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...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bing Spring 2010 Update: New Features Galore

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 02:30 PM

"Moving to the updated Bing web site, we see the biggest changes. And the most important of these, I think, is a rethinking of the overall Bing user experience, with Microsoft moving to more of a dialog-driven model. (Where "dialog" here means a conversation with the user, not a PC-type dialog window.) The impetus for this was the way the Bing user interface had evolved and become somewhat cluttered over the past year, with the left column, or "rail" in Bing-speak, losing its focus and becoming, on many pages, too long to be useful. (Microsoft has found that once the navigational pane extends past the "fold," or the bottom of the initial screen height, that many users simply stop paying attention.)"

The new Bing update is out, there's lots to like - of particular interest is the entertainment/media options. When you look up an artist and flip over to the music tab, you'll have an option to hear a full version of the track - as in, the entire song, once - after that, you'll get a 30 second preview. Zune Pass subscribers will get to hear the whole song as many times as they want. I haven't been able to see/test this feature, even when I manually go to the US version of Bing. Anyone else had any luck with this?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Music Organization: Which Application Wins?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:30 PM,0

MaximumPC has done an interesting side by side comparison of the big three options out there for music organization on your home PC. To be honest, most people will have a hard time really making much of a selection based on the software and are far more likely to be choosing based on what their device of choice is. In the case of the iPod and Zune, we’re mostly tied to using the software designed for it.

But if you don’t like your options with your current software solution, it’s certainly not impossible to use a different program to manage your media and a different one to load your player. The three that MaximumPC looks at are iTunes (of course), Zune, and Songbird. Read more...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sync Your Media Center, Zune And Windows Home Server

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Interesting Opinion Column on Microsoft's 2009 Successes

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 05:00 AM

"The year 2009 was pretty good to Microsoft, even as the weak economy ravaged sales. Microsoft actually did a few things right. The did-wrong list will come later today.... For now, I present the list of 10 things Microsoft did right in 2009 -- in no order of importance. They're all important. Microsoft: 1. Flawlessly launched Windows 7...."

Read the article to see whether you agree with Joe Wilcox on these 10 items or not. As a fan of Windows 7, I'm not surprised to see it at the head of the list. Bing also seems to make sense, and Silverlight and PCs with less bloatware are probably worthy of applause. However, I have mixed feelings about Security Essentials, although that is primarily a carryover of the "Microsoft is gobbling up all the small guys" mentality. And I cannot help but wonder about the Microsoft retail stores, in light of the difficulty other computer / technology stores have had: is two stores enough to really improve sales? If not, can even Microsoft afford to launch and maintain a nationwide chain?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Zune Finally Good Enough To Clone

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:30 AM

"Taiwan's MSI, known mainly for its PCs, has released its latest portable media player, the MT-V660. The device is styled after Microsoft's Zune HD and uses a Rockchip RK2806 chipset along with a 3.2-inch display with a 480x320 resolution."

While Apple's iPod line has had a quadrillion copy cats, Microsoft's Zune has remained relatively unscathed until now. With the Zune HD getting rave reviews it was only a matter of time before similar looking products started showing up. If I were Microsoft, I would feel flattered! The fact that this one comes from MSI is a bit of a surprise, but it appears that the less euphoniously named MT-V660 appears to offer playback for a wealth of formats. Whether it will support the rest of the features a Zune HD offers, and have as slick an interface remains to be seen. One thing that is certain though, is that it will be sold beyond the US border.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zune Video Marketplace and Other New Features Coming to Xbox 360's Everywhere on November 17th

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 05:00 PM

"The topic du jour was all about TV, but this morning at NewTeeVee Live - an industry conference that explores the future of television - Xbox LIVE general manager Marc Whitten confirmed the next wave of social entertainment is coming to Xbox LIVE on November 17. Starting next week, Facebook, Twitter, and instant on HD video from Zune will be available on Xbox 360 consoles, transforming Xbox LIVE into the largest social network connected to the TV with exclusive features custom-designed for the living room."

November 17th is the big day when Zune comes to the Xbox 360! Engadget has some great videos that they've disabled embedding on, so you'll have to go over to their site to see them. One of the interesting features is the ability to watch a movie in a shared virtual environment - meaning you can have a "movie party" and have several online friends watch the same movie at the same time, and you can emote certain things - and talk - while the movie is going on. I don't know how often I'd want to do that - probably never - but it's a neat use of technology to bridge distances between friends. The videos in the Zune video marketplace are 1080p, and support "instant on" streaming. Myself, I'm most curious to see what will happen to the selection of movies - it's always been pretty poor in Canada, and we've never had TV shows for download. If you want to get great online video in Canada, iTunes is pretty much the only game. I hope this Xbox update changes that!

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?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Windows Media Player to Support Streaming

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:00 PM

"In the announcement of the impending release of Windows 7 RC (basically the final beta), Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed a rumor that I first saw reported by Zack Whitaker of ZDNet last month: a new feature called Remote Media Streaming will let you access the music library on your home PC from another computer over the Web. It's like Slingbox, only instead of accessing the cable box or DVR sitting in your home, you're accessing the music files stored on your home PC."

This would be an excellent feature to implement to the Zune. I mean, come on, the wi-fi is just asking for a killer application and this would be one of the few features that the iPod touch does not use its wi-fi for. Of course, this is probably a pipe dream since this is in WMP rather that the Zune's software.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

iZel Universal Device Stand

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 AM

"The iZel is a totally unique and innovative way to support your device for hands free use. Its remarkable design supports a wide range of the world's most popular devices. It has a clever method for adapting its shape to landscape or portrait orientations and it is easily adjusted to position your screen for the optimal viewing angle. Best of all, it folds flat and travels easily. The iZel's durable construction is made possible by using a sophisticated slip-resistant elastomer that helps to keep your device in its place and looking new. Use the iZel when you want to watch a video, make a hands-free call, monitor your email, surf the web, or to simply use your device as a digital picture frame."

This is certainly one way to go about things, but it seems a bit larger than what I want to carry around. Personally, I keep a few paperclips in my bag and just make myself a quick stand on the few occasions that I need one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Zune Software's Speed of Updating Music = Awesome

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 02:42 PM

It's a small, but beautiful thing, when software impresses me - and today the Zune software impressed the heck out of me. I always knew it was quite fast at finding new music in a monitored folder, but I didn't realize how fast it was until today. I purchased and downloaded six tracks from the new Mstrkrft album for my wife (she digs electronic music) and after tweaking the metadata and fixing the file names using the always-awesome MediaMonkey, I moved the files up to my Windows Home Server and swung over to my media editing computer. The Zune software was already running on it, and I was amazed to see it pick up the new tracks on the network-shared drive - we're talking less than three seconds before it found the music. That's a beautiful thing. Compare that with Windows Media Center, which seems to not even find my new music half the time unless I kick off a manual update scan in Windows Media Player, and you can see why I use the Zune software on all my computers for listening to music. Good job Zune team! Even if you don't have a Zune, I honestly reccomend giving the Zune software a try - it's a great piece of software.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Regrets on the Life of Zune

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 PM

"Bach insisted that music was a required component of the "three screen" experience, and that Microsoft had to be a leader rather than a mere technology provider in this space. If Microsoft hadn't built the Zune, it wouldn't have been able to create the Zune software and Marketplace, which have become pretty solid after a couple false starts. But he admitted that if the company were to enter the space again with perfect hindsight, it would do things differently."

Matt Rosoff, who wrote this blog entry for CNet believes that what Bach would have done differently was that Microsoft would have left the actual hardware up to manufacturers, instead creating the entire platform supporting it from the software, to the specifications, to the online store. I think this idea bears a significant resemblance to how Microsoft is handling their Windows Mobile segment historically, but with a central online service, like Xbox Live. I'm sure that if the Zune had been launched this way, it still would have to fight against the empire that is iPod but it would probably be easier on Microsoft as they've shown that they're not experts in hardware innovation. Leaving the hardware to manufacturers may not lead to revolutions in the Zune interface, but it would make changes to everything quicker and faster.

Tags: zune, bach

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Showdown: Ultimate Ears 2 Earphones vs. Zune Premium Headphones

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

What do you get for headphones for under $65? Let's compare two options, one of them twice as expensive as the other. Is that a fair comparison? $65 is affordable for most people who purchase something capable of digital audio playback, so I think it's fair game. I was using my set of Ultimate Ears' 2 earphones ($62.99 from this morning, and I decided to throw the Zune Premium Headphones into the mix - you know, the ones that come with the Zune 80, but not the Zune 120 - and I was quite disappointed with how poor the Zune headphones sounded. I normally wouldn't criticize free headphones that come with a player, because it's always my advice to toss them and buy a good pair of headphones, but in this case the premium headphones are a product normally sold separately for $39.99 MSRP (retailing for $30 from Amazon) so I think they're fair game for comparison - especially now that there's no modern Zune that includes them. Read more...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Purchase Microsoft Points With Your Phone... In Japan

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home News" @ 10:30 AM

What if filling up on Microsoft Points was as easy as picking up your phone and having the cost added to your phone bill? That's how it is for NTT DoCoMo users in Japan, and hopefully, that's just a starting point.

If Microsoft is working with other carriers to make this available around the world, great. If not, they probably should. A vast majority of Xbox Live Marketplace and Zune Marketplace users probably have a mobile device of some sort - some have their reasons against directly linking their Windows Live ID and credit card together, while others don't always want to make the trek to their local store to pick up one of the many Microsoft Points cards on offer, so this third option makes a lot of sense.

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