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View Full Version : The Method to Microsoft's Zune Madness


MacBytes
Nov 13, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: The Method to Microsoft's Zune Madness (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20061113084440)
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Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
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spicyapple
Nov 13, 2006, 07:48 AM
Partnering with content providers for a share of profits from hardware sales seems like a very bad precedent for consumers. Not sure if this is boneheaded for Microsoft or genius, so I'm anxious to see what becomes of this.

macFanDave
Nov 13, 2006, 08:13 AM
Zune is doomed. It's the same price as the beloved iPod, but includes a battery-sucking, waste-of-time gimmick: the crazy Wi-fi sharing scheme.

One thing these business types neglect is that Apple was first in neither online music services nor in portable MP3 players, but they entered crowded fields and won them in the marketplace. Unlike pharmaceuticals or gasoline, the laws of supply and demand work as beautifully as Adam Smith could have dreamed of in the fields that iPod and iTunes dominate. It's how free markets drive innovation and consumer value.

Of course, Microsoft, the convicted monopolist, doesn't really thrive in a true free market.

Warbrain
Nov 13, 2006, 08:15 AM
The last thing i want is a DMP that has more restrictive DRM than Fairplay will ever be.

askthedust
Nov 13, 2006, 08:53 AM
"Rob Enderle, principal analyst at San Jose-based Enderle Group, believes Microsoft will want to decrease the barriers for owners of rival music players to use its music download and subscription service."


Sounds like a great company, aka Rob in the basement spouting anti-apple propaganda per usual....

macFanDave
Nov 13, 2006, 12:14 PM
"Rob Enderle, principal analyst at San Jose-based Enderle Group, believes Microsoft will want to decrease the barriers for owners of rival music players to use its music download and subscription service."


Sounds like a great company, aka Rob in the basement spouting anti-apple propaganda per usual....

Yeah, he's kinda the "turd in the punchbowl" when it comes to reading tech articles. You'll be reading an article thinking of counterarguments, but when you get to Enderle and his eponymous "group," the credibility of the article plummets to zero.

If the author is not discerning enough to know that Enderle is a fool (his only redeeming feature is that he could be a stunt double for Alex Trebek), he or she is too stupid for me to take seriously anymore.

jettredmont
Nov 13, 2006, 12:56 PM
Played with a Zune in Target today.

The primary issue here is really simple: interface, interface, interface.

Zune's interface looks pretty, but I just couldn't "get" it, after standing at the kiosk for more than five minutes. Compare that to the 90-second familiarity I'd gotten with my first interaction with a 1G iPod. The wheel-that-isn't really hurts them amongst the iPod-familiar crowd, I think; it certainly made me try to "scroll" it several times. And, I suspect, that "wheel" was the root of my troubles: it seemed to act inconsistently with button presses, and after thinking about it on the ride home I'm fairly convinced I'd been pressing the "side" buttons instead of the "top" buttons much of the time. The iPod click wheel is pretty unambiguous to press each of the four sides; the Zune "wheel" is about 1/3rd the size (based on memory) and didn't give good tactile feedback. So, I'm guessing a lot of the time when I thought I was figuring out what the four axes meant while playing around with the device, I was just confusing myself as my fat thumb was hitting the wrong directions. People complain about Apple putting style of substance: this is a prime example of Microsoft putting me-too style rip-off over function. I certainly can't imagine this button scheme working on a device more the size of a nano; it's simply too ungainly and inelegant.

Second, of course, is that almost everyone has bought some amount of music online. I've bought a lot of iTunes music; others have bought Plays For Sure music. It's all useless bits on a hard drive for a Zune. What the world needs most now, apparently, is yet another incompatible, isolated music service. Sorry, but unless it was less restrictive than even FairPlay (and IMHO it's a huge step in the wrong direction there!), I'm not going through the pain of changing over.

Third, finally, is the perceived value of WiFi. I'm sorry, but I do believe it could be really cool, but there's a lot of work (much behind-the-scenes) to be done there. First, there's the clunkiness of it. There's a video on Gizmodo (http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/zune-file-transfer-race-213288.php) of "squirting" a song across to another Zune; the commenters there are falling over themselves saying how cool it is, but IMHO it really sucks. It took 30 seconds to share a short, low-quality song, to begin with, and required way too button-pushing. Of course, most of the button-pushing is because you can't just scroll down anywhere; you need to push, push, push to get three lines down in the interface. My thumb hurts just thinking about it! The second issue with WiFi is with MS's brain-dead implementation: why limit it to 3 plays/3 days for everything? I can sort of understand that for Zune Marketplace songs, but why everything else? WiFi transfers of music to your iPod could be really cool, were all the kinks (technological and music-industry) worked out. But Zune's nowhere near. And so, in the end, it comes off as a pay-for-it/never-use-it gimmick.

One gripe I have with the iPod, though, I stumbled across on the Zune (although I couldn't figure out how to get back there reliably). When playing a song, one of the six buttons leads to a screen with options for "Shuffle", "Repeat", and "Flag" (I think). While the other options there were meaningless to me, I'd just about kill for my iPod to be able to switch back and forth between shuffling with less than a dozen clicks and menu traversals. That frickin' infuriates me! Steve, you listening?

In any case, I went to Target with a complete shopping list, saw the Zune, and thought I'd give it a try. I left with a seriously bad taste in my mouth. While there may some day be a Microsoft audio player in my future, it certainly won't be a Zune!

tech4all
Nov 13, 2006, 02:42 PM
Thanks for that quick review, jettredmont.

One gripe I have with the iPod, though, I stumbled across on the Zune (although I couldn't figure out how to get back there reliably). When playing a song, one of the six buttons leads to a screen with options for "Shuffle", "Repeat", and "Flag" (I think). While the other options there were meaningless to me, I'd just about kill for my iPod to be able to switch back and forth between shuffling with less than a dozen clicks and menu traversals. That frickin' infuriates me! Steve, you listening?

I do agree with this. The iPod is great, But I really wish Apple would have Shuffle, Repeat, (not sure what "Flag" is though), in an embedded menu option. Like how when you press the center button you can access to other options like the star ratings. It's a pain to have to go in the the Settings menu and really unnecessary. If I'm in the middle of a song and want to put it in Repeat mode, I have to leave the song (playing or not), then go to the main menu, then to the settings, and activate Repeat. Then go all the way back to the song. Surely a simple firmware update could add this feature to pretty much all iPods, I think.

eazyway
Nov 13, 2006, 08:45 PM
Thanks for that quick review, jettredmont.



I do agree with this. The iPod is great, But I really wish Apple would have Shuffle, Repeat, (not sure what "Flag" is though), in an embedded menu option. Like how when you press the center button you can access to other options like the star ratings. It's a pain to have to go in the the Settings menu and really unnecessary. If I'm in the middle of a song and want to put it in Repeat mode, I have to leave the song (playing or not), then go to the main menu, then to the settings, and activate Repeat. Then go all the way back to the song. Surely a simple firmware update could add this feature to pretty much all iPods, I think.

The shuffle function I never use. Repeat ... a song ... the playlist . Both are easy to do .. with your eyes closed.. Flag I assume means to flag the song and do something with it later.

To repeat the song you just heard simply click the go to beginning ...once near the end of a song or twice after the new song has started

To repeat list Click menu and scroll to the top song ..

Now if you want flag certain songs and then repeat them. That is another feature that would be nice sort of.

gerardrj
Nov 13, 2006, 11:41 PM
Thanks for that quick review, jettredmont.
...then to the settings, and activate Repeat. Then go all the way back to the song. Surely a simple firmware update could add this feature to pretty much all iPods, I think.

You perhaps are not aware of the "Now Playing" at the bottom of the main menu? I can get from any menu to the currently playing song in less than 1 second without looking at the screen.
Click "Menu" to get to the top menu, scroll to the bottom (you don't have to look, just scroll till the wheel stops clicking) then click "select". This item being at the bottom is like Apple's "mile high" menu items where you can slam your mouse to the top of the screen to access all the menus there without thinking about vertical placement of the cursor.

jlewis2k1
Nov 14, 2006, 12:40 AM
since i am a electronics specailist for target ... i had to set the Zune endcap on friday. i have to say as an iPod user i couldn't figure how to use the Zune player. but since i got time to play with it a little today i finally figure out how to use it. it was too confusing. it is not simple and people will complain about the interface and graphical user interface.

tech4all
Nov 14, 2006, 12:45 AM
Click "Menu" to get to the top menu, scroll to the bottom (you don't have to look, just scroll till the wheel stops clicking)

Ok I did that.

then click "select". This item being at the bottom is like Apple's "mile high" menu items where you can slam your mouse to the top of the screen to access all the menus there without thinking about vertical placement of the cursor.

I'm assuming by "select" you mean the center button? When I do that all I see is the current song playing. I don't see any mile high menu items or other options. If it matters I have a 4G iPod, is this a feature only available on newer iPods?