Zune

I got a Zune (or actually several zunes) and explored it functionalities a bit. The first contact with the zune pc software was rough: the install just fails with some cryptic message. Good point for them although that the observant user will find a link in the corner of the error message that will redirect him to a hefty 188 Mb package that this time will successfully install… Unless you run a certain alpha nameless operating system in which case you’re just stuck.
 
Several points about the Zune are frustrating, and I speculated with colleague why these design choices were made. Likely, they are linked to business strategy, time to market, and cost of production. Obviously the target audience is not the advanced user.
 
– You can’t delete files from within the player. You simply must always connect to a PC to manage the content. What a pain – you can’t act on content render badly on the device by deleting it right away. No, you’ve got to find a PC. Yes, it does make sense to protect the basic user from himself on such tiny screen and tiny control.
– Cryptic error message on PC-Zune synchronization failure – I don;t have the code handy, but the Zune support forum is full of people hitting this. Apparently this can be worked around (and worked it around for me) by changing access rights on some Zune keys. Again the installer not doing its job properly in the first place? Why isn’t there a KB article or a fix-it executable available?
– Limited video codec support. You can’t sync your mpeg files with your Zune. Nope no MPEG-2 – unless you run Vista Ultimate / Home Premium -. Zune software will ignore your DirectShow codec and only used MS’ inbox MPEG-2 codec. What the fuck?! DirectShow is a MS technology, and come on an enormous amount of content is mpeg-2 today. How could they ignore this codec? Likely, a business decision because of the licensing costs associated with mpeg…
– Double conversion: so the zune software will accept say mpeg-2 / h.264, *but* it will first do some internal black magic (conversion) before uploading it to the device. So my mpeg-2 files, I actually spend hours making them mpeg-4 and then again the zune software converts it.
– Closed platform. No open source, so SDK, not even wokring within MS standards such as MPT. So no chance to go fix yourself these painful flaws.
– North america only – accessories related to power will adapt to US plugs only. Also rumored zune marketplace is US-only. But that I don’t really give a crap about given I don’t think I’m ever going to buy content this way.
– Zune software is very much redundant with Windows Media Player… But far not as good. Why not simply use Windows Media Player instead?! Ah yes, it would required talking with the dude across the corridor, and take a dpendency you never know if a new VP will honor.
 
Miserable Microsoft… No, I’m picky today. :p
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