Thursday, August 30, 2012

Goodbye Zune

On August 31 Microsoft will begin removing apps for the Zune HD from its Zune Marketplace. Some Zune services will also be shut down. There are details here.

It is a shame. The Zune HD was a nice alternative to the IPod Touch. It had some advanced features like being able to sync with a PC over WiFi. The interface was fast and fairly intuitive. And, it was very friendly to music ripped from (legally owned) CDs.

As originally shipped the Zune had some drawbacks. It could not connect to a wireless network that required an agreement. This is how most commercial hotspots work so it was limited to home wireless routers. Email, Facebook, and Twitter were a long time coming. All of these were eventually fixed and several games created for it but by then the IPod and IPhone had hundreds of thousands of apps.

Probably the biggest thing that hurt the Zune were timing. The window for marketing a non-phone, touch-screen music player came and went pretty fast and they launched at the tail end of it. Even then, the device was not totally ready for the market. It was fine when playing music or movies but, as I said before, the social aspects of the device were not ready when it launched. It also lacked the ability to do any multiprocessing except to play music while using one of the limited number of apps.

Regardless, I got one of the early ones and found it to be a good music player. It has good battery life and the touchscreen is much handier for large music collections than the touch wheel on the Sansa player I used before it.

It is not perfect. When restarting the device after pausing it, it often wants to start playing the first music track on the device instead of restarting the playlist I was on. The interface is menu-based and some choices are buried further than on Android.

My biggest complaint is the lack of external storage.

Recently I upgraded my smart phone. This left me with a perfectly good Android device that can still connect to WiFi and has external storage. I put a 32 gig memory card in it and have been using it as my music player instead. One advantage to this is that I can play music without having to use earphones or an external speaker.

I can understand why Microsoft would not keep supporting a device that they no longer produce but I am not sure why they would start killing existing services. This is just the latest in a line of music players that they introduced and later abandoned. It is actions like this that make me dubious about trusting Microsoft again.

1 comment:

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