zune

26

Farewell Zune Devices

It seems Microsoft have finally chosen to halt development of the much greatly under-performing Zune media player, in a report published by Bloomberg. Is this a wise decision to cut off their portable media player?

We think so. Sure, the Zune has had its fair share of sales and use but for Microsoft to take the mobile competition seriously and contend with all guns blazing, they need to step up their game and increase development efforts with WP7. While the product line has suffered, the software and service has been a slight-success with the additional coverage on the Xbox 360 and WP7 platforms.

Included in the report, Bloomberg states that Microsoft will continue to sell existing models of the Zune, but will not introduce anything new. What do you think of this latest move, and do you believe it will have a positive effect on Windows Phone 7 development?

Source: Bloomberg; via BusinessInsider

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Pandora is one of those services that use databases and high end math to answer a simple question, what music would I like? Sadly, Pandora hasn’t made an appearance on Windows Phone 7 yet; though Slacker Radio is a good alternative.

The rumor mill is starting to churn at the possibility that Microsoft is building a social-centric music discovery service codenamed Ventura. Obviously details like cost and scope are unavailable but the thought of having a service like this definitely has us chomping at the bit, especially since Windows Phone would be the perfect platform to push such a service on.

Our hope is that Ventura is a piece to the puzzle as to why the Mango update has been referred to as the "entertainment" branch.

Source: Mary Jo Foley; Via: Business Insider

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Seems us Samsung folk (I’m really beginning to regret leaving HTC) are still experiencing issues with the pre-NoDO update (take 2). Pulling the original release, this second attempt was meant to have fixed the teething issues, but alas there are still problems being reported. I’m just grateful we haven’t gone down the Windows Vista/7 route with displaying a notification that we have 130 updates available.

damiao_jr on Twitter has voiced more concern over the updating (through Zune) with attaching the error code that is displayed. WindowsPhoneSupport replied to the tweet with a snappy statement “we are looking into it right now”. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident, and I truly feel for the WP7 development team right now with the serious run of problems that have been present with the first update.

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Looks like all is not going well with that Windows Phone update that are rolling out today as reports are coming in that the Samsung Omnia 7 is having some stability issues when updating.

Specifically, we're told that the "backup gets stuck at 100% (Step 7 of 10) and the update doesn't carry on". So while the phone is still usable (luckily), users can't proceed with the update which also means the 'NoDo' update will be out of reach as well. This isn't just one or two people either as @winhonesupport is dealing with quite a number of user-generated problems with the same description.

Windows Phone Support is already on the case, looking into what is happening exactly. So far though, this seems to be Samsung/Omnia 7 specific, so for now we'll have to advise those to wait a bit before updating.

Thanks, Steve F, for letting us know!

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The question in re-installing applications and games on the Windows Phone 7 platform has be asked several times, and with good reason too. Picture the following - you buy a brand new WP7 handset due to your current one either being seriously damaged, or isn't meeting your requirements for daily use. You have attached your Live ID on the new device and you notice that you have no apps. Is there a way to download them onto your new phone? Good news in short - yes. 

It really is truly simple to get your apps back to their rightful place in your pocket (or hand for that matter), whether you are in the position explained above or you have simply removed the app for a reason and wish to re-install it. All that is required is for you to go through the purchasing process for that app buy selecting "buy" on the app overview screen and should you have purchased the app previously on your synchronised Live ID, you will be presented with the screen displayed in the photo above.

Clicking "install" will download and install the app (or game) again without charging your attached credit card. One must note, however, that you are unable to perform this within the Zune software. To re-download apps, you must carry this process out on your mobile device.

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Windows Phone 7 Connecter on OS X goes gold on App Store Surprising all Apple focused Windows Phone 7 owners (myself included) with native support for their new platform, Microsoft have had their connector software that allows seamless synchronisation between WP7 devices and OS X in beta for a few months now since October '10. It has now gone gold. Unfortunately, there is still no Zune software available or that has been rumoured to be in active development which would be welcomed with open arms. There are no reportable features that have been added to the Connector, only fixes and enhancements. Still allowing media synchronisation with iTunes & iPhoto and allowing WP7 device firmware updates we don't truly have grounds to grumble. Head on over to the App Store to download the latest instalment for free. Should you have it already and the store is not reporting an update is available, simply drag the Windows Phone 7 Connector icon from your applications list to the trash can and then install from the App Store. Source: Engadget

Surprising all Apple focused Windows Phone 7 owners (myself included) with native support for their new platform, Microsoft has had their connector software that allows seamless synchronization between WP7 devices and OS X in beta since October '10. It has now gone gold.

Unfortunately, there is still no Zune software available or that has been rumored to be in active development, which would be welcomed with open arms. There are no reportable features that have been added to the Connector, only fixes and enhancements. Still allowing media synchronization with iTunes & iPhoto and allowing WP7 device firmware updates we don't truly have grounds to grumble.

Head on over to the App Store to download the latest installment for free. Should you have it already and the store is not reporting an update is available, simply drag the Windows Phone 7 Connector icon from your applications list to the trash can and then install from the App Store.

Source: Engadget

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We've heard that a new version of the Zune Desktop application is required for the upcoming Windows Phone 'NoDo' update and sure enough, an update just went live.

If you go to your Zune Desktop --> Settings --> Software --> General, you can force an update-check to grab v4.7.1404.0--which seems to be the same version as before, so we're unclear of any direct changes.

The new version of Zune Desktop is suppose to allow your Windows Phone to be backed up in preparation for 'NoDo', allowing you roll back if there are any problems during the flash. Of course the bigger news is this probably signifies that the actual Windows Phone update is only days, if not weeks away or that MS is gearing up for some changes in anticipation. (And call us crazy, but Zune seems to load a lot faster now).

Update: Cursory look so far reveals no significant changes besides perfomance. Find anything? Tell us in comments.

Update 2: While the overall version number is the same, two components have changed as noted by reader mparker: ZuneWmdu.dll and ZuneWmduResources.dll are both now v4.7.1407. Microsoft's support page in fact mentions these as needed for the software backup: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2498092 So this does look like a prep for the 'NoDo' update.

Thanks, David M., for the great observation!

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2498092
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IHS Screen digest has come out with their yearly report on online movie sell-though and Internet video-on-demand (iVOD) service and while Apple is stil at the top (by a lot, we might add) their dominance in the market appears to be waning.

In 2010, Apple controlled 64.5 percent of the online VOD market, but that's down from 2009's 74.4 percent--that loss of 10 percent seems to be quite a large number. Though to be put into perspective, the market itself grew by over 60%, meaning Apple still took away a nice chunk of change.

Reason for the decline in market share though? According to Arash Amel, IHS digital media research director:

Apple faced serious competition from Microsoft's Zune Video and Sony's PlayStation Store, as well as from Amazon and -- most significantly -- Walmart.

More importantly to our concerns, Zune Video platform increased to 17.9 percent from 2009's 11.6 percent--in large part due to the success of the Xbox 360/Kinect combo. That's actually an impressive gain if might say and shows that Microsoft does seem to have a plan here for getting into consumer video content. Combined with Windows Phone 7 (assuming it gains significant market share), we think Zune has a very bright future--so much so we wonder what Android could offer that is remotely analogous?

Although the conclusion by IHS is that Walmat (and Amazon) may be the biggest competitors against Apple, due to their sheer market size and brand-advantage. That may be true, but we don't see any Walmart video service on our smartphones and so far nothing from Amazon either--and the mobile market is an important one, for sure.

Soruce: IHS ScreenDigest; via: Twice; Thanks, Mark, 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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31

Sound stuttering problems for Samsung

There seems to be (and has been for some time) an apparent uproar about the Zune software on the Samsung Focus device over on the Microsoft forums. There appears to be an issue, which many are experiencing with ZunePass content and synchronised playlist.

During the remaining ten seconds of a song it will freeze for a moment or two, play the following second, lock-up once again and continue this loop until the media is finished. Both owners of installed microSD cards, and without have reported this.

Looking into the reports on the forum thread, people seem to be experiencing the stuttering playback issue in completely different circumstances - through the audio jack, via BlueTooth and the built-in speaker. Not only that, but there are more reports that have been posted about the Omnia 7 device that seems to stutter through playback also.

I have attempted to reproduce the problem folk are experiencing on my Omnia 7, but have failed to find anything - I have also been using it as an MP3 device for a month now through commuting and general use, and have never noticed this issue. [Edit: Our own Daniel Rubino has seen this on the Samsung Focus though, numerous times]

Should it be a Microsoft or Samsung fault, we do hope they are looked into as this could seriously impact a user's experience on WP7. Are you experiencing the same problem on your Samsung device?

Thanks Brian for the tip!

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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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Did you know that the Zune Marketplace regularly offers songs for free? No DRM, you own it, it's all yours. The catch is these "deals" are only for single songs and they're temporary. The other issue is finding them.

Developer PoppaString has created a free app to find those free songs. The app, called Free Marketplace Songs is extremely simple and to the point: you launch it, it finds free songs and then you can go grab them in the Marketplace. Cool. Version 1.1 just hit and seems to fix some early bugs, or rather we successfully downloaded a free song--so, win.

Any downsides? Yeah, for one it's a very limited selection, so if you're a picky music listener, it's highly doubtful you'll find something you like. The other would be these freebies expire quickly--so if you can grab two songs for free, consider yourself lucky. Check early, check often.  But hey, the app is free and if you like collecting music, it's a smart way of finding those deals.

Grab it here in the marketplace.

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For those of us who like to sideload Homebrew apps on our Windows Phone, the process can be a little tedious e.g. your phone re-locks often, having to run the Zune software, etc.

The latter piece though can be avoided, that is you don't have to run the Zune Desktop just to sideload a XAP file or even unlock your device (using ChevronWP7). XDA member xbodmod has described a way to just run the "connect" part without Zune, making the process much more streamlined. The process is fairly simple:

  • Disable Zune auto-start (Zune --> Settings --> Software--> General --> "Start the Zune software..."
  • Create a shortcut to desktop from C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v7.0\Tools\WPConnect\WPConnect.exe
  • Plug in phone

That's it. Just running WPConnect.exe and allowing it load for a second does the job and now you can run Tom's XAP installer, ChevronWP7, etc. We like simplicity around here.

Update: @adamUCF lets us know that Microsoft themselves have described this exact method, so credit to them first.

Source: XDA, MSDN

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3

Our attempt of the MarketPlace Enabler

There has been a known issue clouding the Marketplace on our beloved platform that has affected a good number on non-US residents (surprise, surprise) – not being able to download a good number of apps (mainly just after they are published) or even access the Marketplace itself, as India has to struggle to cope with.

I have had this problem myself, attempting to download The Oregon Trail to bring back the old days of Windows 98. Reading up on a previous post about a registry hack that changes the location of the computer and allows you to catch apps using Zune software. Now The Windows Club team have taken it to the next level (good news for the less technically savvy) and have released MarketPlace Enabler.

This handy little program allows anyone who can’t access the Marketplace to change the location and literally access it from anywhere in the world (except you wont be physically moving from your seat). As you’d be using the Zune software, free and paid apps will be downloaded just as you would on your phone, and it is all perfectly safe as the payment gateway attached to your Xbox Live/Zune account will be used to complete the purchase.

I installed the software on my Windows 7 desktop, highly excited to get my hands on The Oregon Trail HD. Simply running the .exe file (while Zune wasn’t running and my phone was disconnected) I as able to change my location and it reported a successful change. Unfortunately, when plugging my phone in and starting Zune, I still could not find The Oregon Trail HD, which I should now be able to see/purchase. After countless reboots, and defaulting/changing my location with the tool, it seems that I have hit a brick wall and wont be going down the Oregon Trail in HD anytime soon, without hacks anyway. MarketPlace Enabler also doesn’t allow me to pretend I’m from another planet; something I hope will be fixed in a future version, along with the above.

Although the tool itself failed to work, the idea and concept is spot on. There is room for improvement and possible fixes could be applied to a future update, or we could pin our hopes on the Marketplace loosening up slightly.

Check out the detailed page over at The Windows Club for more information and the download link. Let us know if the solution worked and how it has improved your experience with your Windows phone, or if it failed.

Source: The Windows Club; via: Mobility Digest

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Back a few weeks ago, we detailed a small and unique problem when you tried to stream music from two Zune devices, serially:  Basically you would pause music on one device e.g. your phone and then you would try to stream it on your Xbox.  While this was supported, it would result in an error only solvable by rebooting your phone.

Microsoft has now responded to the problem by adding a small note on the Zune how-to on their site, which shows how to get around the streaming error:

If you have a Zune Pass, keep in mind that you can play streaming music on only one device at a time. (For example, you can't simultaneously play Zune Marketplace streams on your phone and your PC.) In certain circumstances, Zune Marketplace might think you're still playing a stream on your phone when you've stopped playback and temporarily block you from playing streams on your PC. If you encounter this problem on your PC (sometimes identified as streaming error C101A9CA), go back to your phone and play something that isn't streamed (for example, a song that you ripped from a CD or bought from Zune Marketplace). Then go back to your PC and try playing the stream again.

Seems easy enough to us and according to Steve M who sent us the tip, it works just fine. Thanks, Steve.

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2

First Look: Lyrics by musiXmatch

Lyrics by musiXmatch is easily one of my favorite apps so far on Windows Phone 7. Not only does it expand upon Zune in an useful and intuitive way, but it's free and just really cool.

In short, the program looks up lyrics to whatever song you want--either by search, going through your library or by showing you the top artists of today. It pulls down images and bio, just like Zune does as well.  But the real big thing is how it integrates into the Zune hub, allowing you to seamlessly look up the lyrics to any song you are currently listening too. The program just "knows"what song is playing and it grabs the lyrics--very nice. Also, if the lyrics are wrong, there's a feedback mechanism to report the issue.

Overall, the program is highly accurate and pulls down all but the rarest of artists. If you enjoy reading the lyrics to some new music and want to do it effortlessly, then this app is for you. It's also completely free, so no reason to try it.

Grab Lyrics here (opens Zune Destop)

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Here's an interesting conundrum: when you stream music to your Windows Phone 7 device using the Zune Pass (a great feature, by the way), you can't really stop the music--you can pause it, skip or rewind it, but not stop it. While pausing and stopping seem the same, they're not. Here's why:

Example: You want to stream music via your Xbox or Zune desktop software, after you streamed via your phone for awhile. Say, after you got home from a long day at work.

What happens is you get the message you see in the image above. Fair enough. We understand about DRM and why you can't have multiple devices sharing at the same time. But here's the thing, even if you "paused" the stream on your phone (remember, you can't "stop" it), you still get that message above. The phone, evidently, keeps the ping alive to Microsoft's serves for "X" time. The only way out of this Catch-22 is to power-cycle/soft reset the phone. Restarting the desktop software sure doesn't work.

Odd, eh? We can't too hard on Microsoft, after all they did pull together quite a crazy system here. But still, we hope for the sake of you streamers out there, they find a way to fix this. Now pardon me, I have to go power cycle my phone after this post :-/

Thanks, anonymous, for the tip!

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Microsoft's giving away free Windows Phone 7 device and 12-month Zune Pass subscriptions.

All you have to do is head over to the "official" sweepstakes website and complete the registration form. Or you can enter through Twitter by following @windowsphone and tweeting the phrase "Zune on Windows Phone 7 Rocks My World! Official Rules http://bit.ly/aO7WmS".

You are limited to two entries per day (one via the website and one via Twitter) and you can't use multiple emails to increase your chances.

There are five Entry Periods with the first starting on October 27th, ending on November 2nd and the winning names drawn on November 3rd. One Grand Prize (the phone and Zune Pass), along with five First Place Prizes (one month Zune Pass) will be given away during each Entry Period.

Good luck and let us know if you're one of the lucky winners!

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The new Windows Phone 7 devices are headed to AT&T and to help sweeten the deal, AT&T is offering a free entertainment pack for a limited time.

The entertainment pack includes the XBox Live puzzle-game "Ilomilo", a 30 Day Zune Pass, and a free month of AT&T U-Verse Mobile. The $29.95 valued freebie will be available to AT&T customers who purchase a Windows Phone between October 25, 2010 and December 31, 2010.

You can find all the fine print on the offer over at AT&T's website.

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File this under: not totally clear

The new Zune Desktop v4.7 client came out on Monday, adding of course Windows Phone 7 support and a few other additions related to video rentals/purchases. While most have been happy with the upgrade, it looks like a few users are experiencing potential memory leaks related to the media center app--but it may be isolated to just 64-bit editions of Windows 7.

ZNet is reporting that Microsoft is aware of the issue and investigating, while users in their forum look to find a solution. If you're experiencing such problems, there is a media-collection reset tool that may help with the problem.

On our end, running Windows 7 32-bit, the memory seems stable to use, with Zune v4.7 using a reasonable 58.8MB of memory and holding steady (by comparison, our Firefox browser is sucking 245MB, Chrome even higher)

Source: Zune Forums; via ZDNet; Thanks, Phil, for the tip!

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