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Zune Marketplace

Zune Looking To Expand Into the Living Room, and Beyond

There's been talk in the Microsoft camp at moving the Zune from beyond being "just" a handheld player.  There's a rumored redesign in the works, with plans to revise the Zune experience from top to bottom.  From two recent ads, we can glean a hint of where the Zune is going.

Here's the first one:

Help shape the future of entertainment in the living room. The Zune team is looking for a qualified software development engineer to help deliver great digital entertainment features into the living room, including on demand music and video.

Primary responsibilities include development of innovative user interfaces for delivering a rich, deep interactive media consumption experience in a living room environment. Experience with online services API development is a must, product will provide a rich online media experience delivering music and video from the cloud. A passion for UX and digital media is a must.

Qualifications include a minimum of 3+ years of software development experience in C++ and/or C#. Online services experience. A BS/MS degree or equivalent in Computer Science or related technical disciplines is preferred. The applicant should have strong debugging and object-oriented design skills, demonstrated work experience in the full ship cycle of commercial software products, and the ability to effectively communicate in written form.

Clearly this is intended to bring content into the living room.  I think the key phrases are "from the cloud," and streamed media.

Then, to add to the mystery, there is another position posted.  This time they are looking for someone to expand the marketplace to the international.

If so then you may be ready to join our cutting edge team in the Zune Marketplace. We’re rapidly expanding in the areas of video, international and recommendation systems. Do you like working without artificial barriers? We work in an open office environment where asking questions is as easy as standing up.

Looks like the Zune team is expanding not only to the living room, but beyond the currrent market of the US and Canada.  Let's hope these directions expand the Zune's marketshare as well.

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Windows Phones Now With Marketplace


Clearly Microsoft has some catching up to do in the world of mobile phones.  Sneak Surf onto any Apple forum (I know, heaven forbid, I've done the research to save you the indignity), and much of the discussion is centered around the myriad of mobile apps that can be added to the iPhone, and in many cases, the iPod Touch.  It is far more social than any experience the Zune has done to date.  Giving credit where it is due, Apple has done one heck of a job in creating a whole ecosystem of applications that run on their hardware.  The only like it was for the Palm platform (which is now dead as of last week).  While Google has attempted to duplicate it with their Android G1, it's clearly a work in progress.

To date, Microsoft, the number one software maker in the world, has dropped the ball here.  Their Windows Mobile operating system did not have anything like this developed ecosystem.  However, today, an announcement was made at the Mobile World Congress that shows that Microsoft is moving in the direction of an ecosystem of apps.  Reportedly, the new Windows Mobile 6.5 phones will have an icon to allow them to browse, and purchase apps from the Marketplace.  I might imagine that purchasing Zune tracks might be in the mix as well.  Of course this will only work if there are lots of compelling, and equally affordable apps populating the Marketplace.  That remains to be seen, of course.

Of course, the next step is to make the Marketplace accessible from more than just smartphones.  Look at the success that the iTouch has had, not being tied to any contract or carrier.  While many predicted the death of PDA's years ago, an iPod variant has taken off in this segment.  If this isn't a mandate for Microsoft to build a really usable browser into the next Zune, I'm not sure what they would need.  here's hoping for a Zune Touch device in the not too distant future.

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Zune Marketplace icon makes appearance on Windows Mobile 6.5 screenshot


Well, it may not be a Zune phone, however these latest screenshots are something that seem to be exciting. They are from the upcoming release of Windows Mobile 6.5 and clearly show off an icon for the Marketplace.

Keep in mind, that while these screenshots do appear to be authentic, they are reported to have come from the leaked HTC Touch HD ROM, they have not been officially released, nor have they been confirmed by Microsoft. They do however fit in with the previous rumors and speculation on this subject. Hopefully we will get some more news during Mobile World Congress which is coming up very soon.

Personally, I have sworn off Windows Mobile based phones a long time ago, and despite being a big Zune fan I am not all that interested in the rumored Zune phone, however bringing the Zune Marketplace to my phone would at least make me re-consider a Windows Mobile phone in the future.

Finally, and perhaps most important, lets hope that this "Marketplace" icon is actually a real app and not just a link to the existing Marketplace.

[GadgetMix via Engadget Mobile]

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Windows Mobile 6.5 To Incorporate Zune

Microsoft is expected to rollout their latest version of their mobile operating system next month, dubbed Windows Mobile 6.5 at the Mobile World Congress.  The plan will continue to rely on hardware partners to produce the actual phone, with Microsoft handling the software side of things.

The latest rumor is that this newest operating system will incorporate at least some of the Zune features into the handset.  It is also hypothesized that this is what the "Danger team" has been up to lately.  These new phones are expected for the second half of this year.


I was going to just dismiss this as yet another zPhone rumor, but I noticed that this screenshot did have Marketplace as a screen icon.  Could this be yet another clue?  Anyone for "the social" over a 3G network?

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Get a Zune 80 for $229 and get a free 2 month Zune Pass

Microsoft is currently running a nice special on the Zune 80. The offer is simple, if you purchase a black Zune 80 for the regular price ($229) you will be given a free two month Zune Pass. Which should be more than enough time to convince most people just how nice the Zune Pass really is. Of course, there are some catches, this offer is available through December 31, 2008 and limited to the US.

[Zune Store via ZuneBoards]

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Zune Pass: Your ten free track questions answered

Zunelogo_2It seems that the 10 free song announcement brought forth plenty of questions, and with that comes answers. To begin with, and perhaps most important is that your Zune Pass is not really changing, you will still have everything you had before, just now you are also able to download and keep 10 tracks for free every month.

These tracks, unlike AT&T's rollover minutes are use or lose. Meaning, you cannot download 20 tracks next month if you forget to get your 10 this month. So write a post-it or set a reminder in your calendar, just don't forget.

To begin downloading your free music, simply right click on your track of choice and select Buy or Add to Cart. Your Zune Pass account will keep track of how many you have currently downloaded and let you know when you have hit your monthly limit.

Now for perhaps the nicest part, most of the tracks will be DRM-free and in MP3 format, this of course does not mean that you will not get a WMA file from time to time. Currently about 90% of the Zune Marketplace is available in DRM-free MP3 format, so your chances are pretty good. As for those downloaded tracks, they can then be enjoyed on your Zune, and you can even burn them to a CD, just like you are able to with any other purchased music.

Hopefully this will answer some of the questions that were surrounding this offer, it all sounds good to me -- especially the file format! Now its time to begin choosing my first 10 free tracks. Any ideas?

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Zune Pass users can now keep 10 Marketplace tracks every month


Beginning today, Zune Pass users will have another great reason to enjoy the service. They will now get to keep (forever!) 10 tracks every month from the Marketplace. Not a bad deal, this would be like getting around $10 worth of free music each month, all for the same $14.99. Sounds like a great deal for any current subscriber, and also a great tipping point for those that were still considering signing up for a Zune Pass.

An important item to point out is that these 10 tracks cannot be rolled over month-to-month, meaning you need to download your 10 tracks every month or you will miss out that month.

So where to begin, with so many tracks to choose from its going to be hard to make up my mind. Well, it seems that the Zune Team has thought of that, and to help make up your mind they have added a new collection called “perfect 10s,” which are "10 must-have tracks in each of the most popular genres." In addition they will also offer “fresh picks," which are "ten tracks from the best new releases each week."

[Zune Insider]

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Zune service down for maintenance

Zunelogo_2 Just sending out a friendly reminder, or potentially a first notification if you did not receive the email alert that the Zune Team had sent out over the weekend.

Currently the Zune service has been taken offline for maintenance reasons and could be offline for as long as 48 hours. Of course, personally I am hoping it comes back sooner than that. Below is a copy of the original notification email...

The Zune service will be down for scheduled maintenance on Monday, September 29, 2008 from 12:01am Pacific Time, for up to 48 hours. During the downtime, Zune Social, the forums on, and all of Zune Marketplace will be offline.

We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you.

Please check back soon. We look forward to sharing our picks, plays, and recommendations with you in the Zune Social and in Zune Marketplace shortly!


Your Friends at Zune

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Nokia looking to integrate the Zune Marketplace?

Zunelogo_2 The news surrounding the Zune has certainly calmed down a bit, which leaves one to wonder just what goodies are going on behind the scenes just waiting to come out, however in the meantime we are now seeing some information that Nokia is looking to integrate the Zune Marketplace on some of their handsets.

The reports are still just in the rumor stage and come according to a "well-placed source within Microsoft" so we have to be careful not to get to excited, but it looks like we may see that fabled Zune phone after all.

Of course it would not truly be a Zune phone, in that it would not be a Microsoft, or even Zune branded product, but lets face it a great part of the Zune is the Marketplace and having that on a current phone, especially with some of the great Nokia models certainly sounds like a Zune phone to me.

The source was noted as saying that "Nokia is currently working with the Zune team on integration of Zune Marketplace," however was also quick to mention that although they were working on a deal with Nokia, the deal would not be exclusive to Nokia. Sadly as this is just based on a few statements, we still have no estimate of when we as the general public can expect to see anything.

Personally, I have been a big fan of the N95, but have resisted, however if I was able to use my Zune Marketplace account with it, that may make for a quick and easy purchase decision.

[ars technica]

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Zune Marketplace adding new TV episodes, will be 50% larger

Zune_logo_250_2 Zune has just announced that over the course of the next few weeks they will be adding 400 new TV episodes along with content from the USA Network. The new content will begin to be added as of today, May 28 with more coming on May 30, June 3 and finishing up on June 6. This additional content will reportedly double the size of the current video portion of the Zune Marketplace.

The new content will consist of 19 new programs which include episodes from Comedy Central, NBC Universal, SCI FI Channel, and the USA Network. The new shows include "The Colbert Report," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "Friday Night Lights," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order," "Life," "Lipstick Jungle," "Saturday Night Live," "Battlestar Galactica Classics," "Destination Truth," "Ghost Hunters International," "Ghost Hunters," "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?," "Dr. Steve-O," "In Plain Sight," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Monk," "Psych," and last but not least "The Starter Wife."

These new episode will remain at the same pricing points, 160 Microsoft Points for each episode, which comes out to just about $1.99 each.


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