I ditched my iPoo a long time ago because I got fed up with using the crummy iTunes software that crashed my system 60% of the time I plugged the dang thing in, and bought a 30 GB Zune (this was way before I joined Microsoft). I was instantly taken in at how easy and intuitive it was to use the Zune software, how well the ID3 support worked for the way I use WMAs and MP3s (yes, I prefer WMA because of the better quality and smaller file sizes overall compared to MP3s) and how much more stable my system was.
A few months ago, the Zune folks released a fleet of new Zunes that looked really slick, and included updated version of the Zune software. I was initially concerned that I, with my old-school Zune, would have to upgrade to the new Zunes to use the new firmware and new software. But, as usual, Microsoft was looking out for me and made it super-easy to upgrade my Zune as well as my Zune Software. Today, they’ve done it again…
Today, Microsoft announced another update to the Zune software that includes a number of really excellent new features including (from http://www.zune.net – the Zune Social):
- New capacities
We’ve added 16GB and 120GB devices to the lineup, both with a glossy black front and a black metal back.
- Buy from FM
Hear a song you like while listening to the radio on your Zune? Your device will identify it, and download it the next time you sync.
- Browse Zune Marketplace wirelessly
Download music directly to your Zune: at home, at a café… wherever there’s a wireless hotspot.
- Zune Channels
Combining the best features of podcasts and playlists, subscribe to channels by Billboard, The FADER, and radio stations like KROQ and KEXP.
You can now play games on your Zune! Devices come preloaded with Texas hold ’em and Hexic.
One of our most-requested features is here: audiobooks on your Zune, from Audible.com and OverDrive.
You’ll never again wonder what time it is.
- Mixview, Just for You, and Now Playing
Dynamic representations of your collection, as well as artist and song recommendations based on what you and other members of the Social are listening to.
- Rich search functionality
Zune software will offer you suggestions as you type, helping you find the name of an artist or band even if you don’t know the correct spelling.
- Social in the software
Set your favorite tracks, update your profile, change your status, and search for other Social members — all from within the software.
- Windows Live Messenger integration
See your Windows Live Messenger contacts in the Social, and invite them to join with a click of the mouse.
- New reputation badges
Get recognized for being a top reviewer or top forum poster.
- E-mail notifications
Get a weekly digest of your friends’ activities and real-time notifications of new messages and comments.
- More play data
In addition to number of total plays, now see how many times a track has been added as a favorite or sent to a friend.
This is a GREAT set of additions to an already excellent product. I know that Zune, as part of the overall Windows Experience, is not through evolving – I can’t wait to see what happens next. Now I need to go download the latest updates to the XNA Game Developer Studio and create some games for my newly updated Zune!