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Reviewers don’t swoon over Zune

I really wanted Zune to be good. I really did. Not because of any particular anti-Apple or pro-Microsoft sentiment, but because if Zune’s better than the iPod then that’ll mean better iPods, which in turn will mean better Zunes, which in turn will mean better iPods and so on (and in the ideal world in which I sometimes pretend to live, a healthy iPod alternative might eventually mean DRM interoperability between Apple and Microsoft). But judging by the various reviews online – which I’m not linking to, because it’d take me all day – Microsoft’s dropped the ball on this one.

The consensus is that there’s lots to like about Zune, including a really nifty interface, but there’s lots to dislike too. In no particular order:

* The software’s spectacularly crashy.

* Album art from the Zune marketplace isn’t the right size for the Zune display and looks a bit rubbish.

* It doesn’t work on Vista. Of all the issues, that’s the one that really surprised me.

* The song-sharing is hopelessly crippled, because it wraps DRM on everything. So even if you’re an unsigned band wanting to promote your tracks, you’ve got the three-play limit.

* It’s not very pretty.

* It doesn’t support PlaysForSure, which will make a lot of previous MS-music customers rather miffed.

* Syncing between player and PC is pretty shabby.

* It isn’t Mac compatible. As Engadget rightly points out, “if Zune wants users, Zune needs to find them where they’re most likely living right now. And one of the more likely customers is the Mac user with an aging or dying iPod they’re considering replacing.”

Engadget describes the problems as “death by a thousand cuts” – if you’re taking on the iPod, you need to make something that isn’t just as good as an iPod, but better. Back to the drawing board…

5 replies on “Reviewers don’t swoon over Zune”

At first I thought it was just bad luck – I’ve had experiences where software’s refused to work or crashed constantly, but others have had no problems – but in the case of engadget they tried it on four different machines and it crashed badly on three of them. The vibe I’m getting is “rush job”.

>> The vibe I’m getting is “rush job”.

They probably saw Vista Mk2 and panicked. Speaking of which, the fact that it doesn’t work on Vista is – from a business perspective – horrifying.

Apparently there is a patch for vista support – they’ve been using it internally – but it won’t appear until vista actually ships. Which seems a bit silly to me, because at least some of the early adopter crowd will be running release candidates.

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