zune marketplace

The desktop Zune client could easily go down as one of the greatest desktop applications of all time. It was loved by many for its modern interface, features, and operability with Windows Phone 7. Unfortunately, Microsoft decided to unify its entertainment offerings under the Xbox branding, which is why we now have Xbox Music and Xbox Video. Zune still lives though, it’s essential to users who are still on Windows Phone 7.x or those hanging onto their legacy Zune devices. Sadly, video won’t work after February of 2014.

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Microsoft is continuing their phased closure of the Zune Marketplace, which has been replaced with Xbox Music and Video. The latest change involves users not being able to purchase music or video through the service starting as early as August 22nd. For that reason, Microsoft is encouraging you to spend any Microsoft Point balances before that date.

The move appears to be a combination of Microsoft wanting to move away from Zune, a necessary decision if they want to support only Xbox Music and Video, and the retirement of the MS Points system, which is being replaced by cash across their entire ecosystem.

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Good news to our friends up north. On October 3rd, the Zune Marketplace is headed your way, hopefully completely unfiltered.

"We are excited to announce that Zune Music Marketplace and Zune Music Pass will roll out in Canada on October 3rd, providing access to a growing music catalog of more than 14 million tracks from all the major labels, as well as tens of thousands of indie labels. Zune Music Pass will also be available for C$9.99 per month or C$99.90 annually and can be used on Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows PC, Zune devices and Zune.net."

The deal sounds good to us, especially since up to this point people with Windows Phones up in Canada have not had the full experience. This looks to finally fix this and the pricing seems right about in line with other countries.

In addition, you'll be able to stream "tens of thousands" music videos to your Zune PC and later, the Xbox 360.

Source: Zune Insider

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Microsoft testing Zune in Australia

It seems Australia are in line for some Zune improvements. The Mango 4.8 Zune client displays the music tab when locality is set to Australia and/or an Australian Live ID is used. What's more interesting is that while there's only a small selection of songs and albums available, it does reveal a proposed pricing scheme (using Microsoft Points).

Songs will set music lovers back 129 points (AUD$2.13) and albums seem to be priced per song, capped at 1299 points (AUD$21.43). As an extra bonus, Microsoft has also reportedly enabled podcasts too. These are positive signs for the expanding Zune service in Australia accompanying Windows Phone Mango and the Zune Pass.

Source: iStartedSomething

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One of our readers, Kibosh, has posted on our forum that he seems to be experiencing some issues with language in the Marketplace. Being fluent in Dutch (with good English), he has trouble browsing and - in rare cases - using apps on his device due to the Marketplace being displayed in French.

I'm a Dutch speaking Belgium guy owning a nice HTC Mozart and I'm happy with it. Only there is one major thing wrong with it and that is that the marketplace displays French. There are some more smaller things, but this language issue is for me very annoying.

Because not many people know Belgium (I guess), there are three official languages. Dutch (Me), French and a small part German. For some reason, Microsoft decided to offer the marketplace only in French for Belgium. I can assure you that they made a big mistake. We, the Flemish, speak better English then French. Also there are 6,200,000 Flemish and 3,500,000 French. You can do the math. Consider also the fact that Belgium is going through a political crisis about French vs Flemish and you can see the size of the error.

As one could imagine, this is frustrating for Kibosh and he posted a reply to a Microsoft Answers thread covering language issues on Windows Mobile. Doing some searching, we managed to come across a similar scenario where someone from Switzerland had to browse the Marketplace in German. A few replies later and a solution was posted for a new Live ID and Zune account to be created (with correct settings to force English or a desired language), coupled with resetting the device to attach the new accounts.

Seems a bit much work to change the language, hopefully Microsoft will work on a feature that allows one to alter their language across their Live ID, Zune account and device with one selection. Have you had any trouble with the wrong language being displayed in the Marketplace?

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Microsoft has released an official MSN Video app to the Marketplace, which allows you to browse and search clips from the Bing Videos website. (Think of it as the MS equivalent of the YouTube app).  Fitting nicely into the Metro UI, MSN video offers the option to watch in both regular or high quality.  The HQ vids are obviously much nicer to look at, but as you may imagine, take significantly more time to load up and stream.  One snazzy feature is that videos played from MSN Video will later appear in your history in the Music + Videos Hub.

With YouTube dominating the online video market, we're not sure how much MSN Video will catch on.  That being said, it is great to see MS supporting WP7 by creating their own apps to make it fresh and increasingly useful.

You can download it here for free.

Source: Zune Marketplace; Via: SimpleMobileReview (Thanks, Chris for the tip!)

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If you have a Zune pass, finding some of the big titles and artists just a got a bit easier today as the Zune Marketplace rolled out "Album Galleries".

Broken down by music style, like hip-hop, metal, jazz, Best of 2010, etc. the section features all the best and top recognized artists in their field, giving quick access to their entire catalog for instant downloads. And going by their metal section, we have to agree with their taste so far.

This solves one of those cognitive problems with an unlimited Zune pass: when browsing for music, you basically forget everything you ever wanted to listen to after you fire up Zune. It's like when you used to walk into Record Town and as soon as you passed the door, your mind was erased of what you wanted to buy (personally, I blame those anti-theft scanners at the door--my theory says they obliterated that part of my mind, amiright?)

If you're curious, just follow this link as it opens your Zune desktop to the new section.

via @zune

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7

WP7 missing features around the world

It's already been noted and made aware of, that Microsoft has poorly established their Windows Phone 7 and Zune services around the world (lucky for some, eh America?). To easily display how limited some countries are with support of Microsoft's mobile platform-based services, Andrew Birch has produced a matrix displaying what is available where.

It's actually fairly disturbing once you have a good read through the table (click the image to enlarge it). The US has complete access to all features offered, which is understandable being the land of Microsoft. UK and France are next up more access than the compared list. However, podcasts and TV is presented to be solely available to the American user base (strange when podcasts are freely available). Let us not even dare to analyze poor Canada.

This seems pretty confusing for many, sure the platform is still new and coming together nicely, plus some advancements in international monopoly may occur around the time of the proposed software update time of arrival, but I can't help thinking "why release a system that many can't use properly?". To prevent more negativity presenting itself in the harshest way, Microsoft really needs to combat their Zune, WP7 and Xbox Live deployment across the globe.

But what am I saying? Competitors have this problem, and many companies in other markets experience the same barrier. It will take time for services and features to open up. It would make sense if Microsoft were waiting for demand to reach minimal levels before taking the leap, but how would the demand rise if services aren't readily available for hardware to take advantage of?

As we mentioned in a previous article, announcing the January Microsoft WP7 survey, fill in the feedback form with what you'd like to see for Christmas. Perhaps Zune coverage in your country?

Source: Andrew Tech Help via: Windows Phone Secrets

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One thing that seems to be missing from all of the audiobook apps in the Marketplace is the ability to easily bookmark your spot in an MP3 and return to it. 

XDA member, dbroome, has developed AudioBookMark, which as the name implies, does just that.  AudioBookMark not only remembers which MP3 file you are listening to, but where in that file as well.  And in case you are someone who likes to skip from title to title, you can select from a list of your books and dive right in where you left off on each.  You can use the built-in transport keys to speed to a certain point of an MP3, or manually enter HH:MM:SS to jump directly to the juiciest parts.

You can download it here for $.99.

Source: XDA

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The Zune Pass ($14.95 a month; $150 a year) allows unlimited music downloads to your computer, which can the be transferred to your phone. But what has been vexing me for the last few weeks of using my Samsung Focus/HTC HD7 is that there was no obvious way to use my Zune Pass on the go.

For example, say I'm in the store, hear a song playing and ID it with Shazam. I can then go to the Zune Marketplace to buy the song or use my Zune "credit" (you get 10 per month)--but no option to just download the song. This meant I would have to go home, fire up the computer and download the song that way. Huge FAIL.

Well, turns out I was wrong: you can use Zune Pass on your WP7 device. Microsoft just completely hid it, making buying/using credit as the only obvious choice. While we hate to speculate the worst, it sure looks like MS is purposefully deceiving us a bit here, steering us towards paying for music.

Anyways, watch the video tutorial to learn how. And if you don't have a Zune Pass, you may see why it's so cool to have one.

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Competition is hot these days in the music-download biz and Microsoft's $14.99 a month Zune Pass may instead get chopped down to $9.99, according to senior product manager Terry Farrell in an interview with Business Week.

While Phil and I think the $14.99 a month price is fair (you get to purchase 10 songs a month with that $14.99, in addition to unlimited downloading), others in the industry, notably Amazon and Rhapsody, offer a similar service for $10.

Microsoft does need to position itself here carefully: they want to make a profit and find that sweet spot, but they also want to make sure when you buy an upcoming Windows Phone 7 device, you take advantage of the Zune Marketplace.

Finding just the right combo could be killer, because while Amazon has some presence on mobile (notably Android), Rhapsody is less straight-forward and has less presence. (Plus in comparison, Zune Marketplace is a better experience than Amazon's on Android). This is still the one area that Microsoft can really exploit against Apple, who still don't have a monthly pass subscription.

And while they're at it, we'd like to see Microsoft implement some type of Zune Video Pass, which was rumored to be coming. The idea of having unlimited video streaming/downloading on my Windows Phone 7 would be fantastic.

[via Business Week & Zune Boards]

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For the handful of you who are using the Zune HD (myself and Phil are diehard fans), you'll be pleased to know of a few updates to the Zune Marketplace.

For one, Twitter gets a landscape keyboard in v1.2, which makes it that much more useful (or useless, depending on your view). You must enable "keyboard tilt" under the settings in Twitter, it's off by default. Facebook gets bumped to v1.1--not sure what the difference is there and yours truly is MIA on that social network.

In addition, a few new card games including Hearts and Spades, which we suppose look fun (see below).

Load up your the Zune Marketplace to download these freebies.

  

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