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Zune System Maintenance, Again

Men_working_0801 In what is becoming a weekly event, the Zune system is again down for some maintenance issues.  I guess even "the social" needs to take a break now and again.  No word on what features are to added this time around.


The Zune service will be down for scheduled maintenance on Tuesday, June 16, starting at 12:01a.m. PDT (2009-06-16 0701 UTC) for up to 24 hours. During the downtime, Zune Social, the forums on Zune.net, 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!

Sincerely,

Your Friends at Zune

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Windows Mobile 7 Incorporates Zune

Windows-mobile-7-theme

There have been many rumors about the Zune being recreated into a phone.  At this point, it is more than safe to say that it ain't happening.  However, lately Microsoft has been focusing on the Zune as a software platform as well, and more than "just" a handheld device.

The newest rumor is that Zune will be incorporated into the Windows Mobile 7 platform.  The downside is that this newest mobile OS will likely make its debut in 2010, hopefully in the first half.  This means that there will be a wait to getting this in consumer's hands.  The upside is that this may entice more users to purchase Windows Mobile phones which have traditionally fared better for enterprise use than average consumers.

I personally like the sound of this strategy.  If there is a way to get the Zune platform into more users hands, this could be a good way as smartphones penetrate more.  Imagine how awesome it would be to be able to use your Zune pass with streaming via a 3G network!  Not to mention how social we could be if we weren't limited to WiFi exchanges.  This is the forward thinking that is called for, and hopefully this will be implemented up to its full potential.


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New Zune Literature

Zune_gamebook As the Zune concept is getting redesigned, the emphasis is on transitioning the Zune from a physical media player, to a software concept.  As such, it can be then added as software into existing products.  Two likely targets include the Xbox line, and Windows Mobile phones.  After all, Microsoft is at its heart a software company, and the hardware will always be a secondary endeavor to them.

They are envisioning, or shoudl I say reenvisioing the Zune as both a device and a service.  With the Zune able to play games, apparently they wish to port this ability to other devices of the Microsoft pantheon as well.  This became apparent at a McGraw Hill book summit with the release of a new title: Zune Game Development Using XNA 3.0.  While this may all sound like an intriguing development, I have to point out that I'm not quite sure that Xbox owners are clamoring to play Zune games on that platform.  Music, maybe, but portable games, well, no.  At any rate, it's nice to see some further developments of integrating the Zune further into other core Microsoft products.


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Zune 120 GB Review

Zune rev

Many months after the intro, it's nice to see that a new review of the Zune 120 GB.  Sometimes it is these later reviews, when all the initial enthusiasm has melted away, that can be the most objective of a product. 

Website I4U News takes on the challenge of the Zune 120 GB.  This is the only hard drive player that Microsoft is making these days, and matches the largest of the iPod hard drive line.  The review is a reasonable length, and hits all the high points of the player.  They also focus their attentions on the ecosystem, better known as the Zune Marketplace, that the Zunes fit into.  While they don't go into lesser used functions, such as picture viewing, or battery life while playing videos, they do talk about using the built in WiFi to access Marketplace tunes via the all-you-can-eat subscription.

While their review does a good job of highlighting the uses of the monthly subscription Zune pass, I hope that users with exisiting larger music collections don't feel that they are left out, or that the Zune is not a viable player for their collections.  Plenty of us have a Zune, and don't use the subscription aspect.  While it is a reasonable option for many users, it is not for everyone.  I think their overall score of 8 is pretty accurate however you look at it.


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Zune Stuck In 2008?

Js800003 After an unexpected "Zune Bug" reared its ugly head yesterday, the original Zune, not in the spotlight for some time, has been front and center.  While Microsoft reassured users that "All would be well, and to all a good night," it appears that statement may have been a vision of sugar plum fairies.  It would appear that at least some users are not back to normal, and the original Zune is in a state of SNAFU.

While there are some workarounds, they appear to be homesprung remedies with varying results so far.  For the time being, the safest route is to simply leave the Zune disconnected from the computer for the next few days while this all gets worked out.  I'm confident that the Zune team will be back on the job next week, and someone has gotta work on this, right?

In the meantime, here are Microsoft's official recommendations on the issue.


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All 30 GB Zunes Expired at the same time!

Zune_tricks

Are you Zune 30GB owner? If yes, December 31st is not your lucky day. Tons of Zune owners are reporting that their Zune froze at the Zune logo screen when they turned on their device this morning.

The normal reboot trick doesn’t solve the problem and Microsoft hasn’t responded to this yet. This can’t happen at a worst time for the Zune support team, as the technical staff is probably all gone for the New year’s eve party.

We never now, if this is a date related problem(and it does look like it), January 1st might solve the problem. Can this be caused by the clock recently implemented?

Let us know if you find something to reboot the device…

UPDATE: The Zune team acknowledged the problem by posting this on Zune.net:

"Customers with 30gb Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware.  We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it.  Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!"

UPDATE 2 - "FIX IT YOURSELF": Isaac is suggesting that if you unplug the battery of the Zune, you should be able to restart the device. This should normally void your warranty, but most of the Zune 30GB out there are well over the one year warranty period. The detailed instructions are available here. I will personally wait until Microsoft provides a fix for this...


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Zune "Not the Endgame?"

Zunesoftware1 Hmm.  I always thought that that the point of designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling any product, was to well, sell the err, product, right?  Well, apparently I missed that day in business school, because that may not always be the case. 

Take the Zune for example.  One analysis is viewing the physical Zune player as merely a way for Microsoft to promote their sales of entertainment via the Zune Marketplace.  Their analysis focuses on how Microsoft is focusing on promoting their latest Zune software rather than the player itself.  This also has implications on where content will come from for both the Xbox platform, and Windows Media Player.

While it brings up an interesting point, I think we should remember that it took quite a while before folks were loading up their iPods from the iTunes store.  In other words, the player sales need to come first before the content sales.  IMHO, Microsoft should focus on moving the Zune units first, and then, now that the Zune Marketplace is offering such an enticing deal, I have no doubt that the sales will follow.


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Time to update; Zune 3.1 is now available

Zunelogo_2 If you have not already updated, now may be a good time as Zune 3.1 is now available. The new update includes a few time wasters that come in the form of games -- an update to Texas Hold 'Em along with three new ones which include Checkers, Sudoku and Space Battle.

Of course there are more important items than just playing games, and 3.1 also includes some "incremental improvements to the software" which include an increase in overall stability and performance on both the PC software and device. Additionally, some navigation improvements were made to the Zune Social and a new feature called “like minded listeners” was added.

As always, to get the update, launch your Zune software on your PC and under the Settings category simply click Check for Updates.

[Zune Insider]


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Zune 3.0, now with Audible.com support, free book and 30-day trial available

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Another feature that came along with the Zune 3.0 software update was the addition of Audible.com support. While maybe not the most advanced of the new features, its one that I am personally excited to see, in fact I would say that this addition was long overdue.

Aside from the support, Audible is also offering a few freebies. The first is a 30-day trial to test out the Audible service, of course this offer is valid only for new customers. The second offer is a free book, and this one is available for everyone. The freebie book is Black River by Dean Koontz and can be downloaded by any Zune owner.

To claim your 30-day free trial or your copy of Black River just head on over to www.audible.com/zune.

[MSN Money via Zune Insider]


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Microsoft offering free McDonalds Wi-Fi for Zune owners

Mcdonalds_logo_250 In addition to the recently released Zune 3.0 software, Microsoft has announced that Zune owners will also be able to get free Wi-Fi at McDonalds restaurants across the US.

“Wayport is pleased to be working with Microsoft to make it easier for Zune users to access music on the go,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of business development and marketing for Wayport.

Now, assuming you have already updated to the latest software you will be able to take advantage of all the new features the next time you get that fast food craving. Which means that in addition to downloading music from the Marketplace you can also tag and purchase from the FM radio, and also take advantage of the recommendations and programming features. As of the current announcement, the wireless access is available at more than 9,800 McDonalds locations.

[Microsoft]


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