Microsoft removing Windows Phone Marketplace from Zune Desktop


In a surprising move, Microsoft announced today on the Windows Phone blog that in the near future starting today you, won't be able to purchase or browse apps using the Zune Desktop software. (If you launch Zune Desktop, you'll be notified of the changes). In addition, you'll need Windows Phone 7.5+ to access and purchase new apps in the Marketplace, basically forcing users who are still on NoDo to finally update.

The Zune Desktop move seems odd until Microsoft explains that the overwhelming majority of users browse and purchase apps right on their phone or at the very least, use the Web Marketplace. So trying to focus their engineering efforts where it matters, Microsoft has decided to concentrate their efforts on those two areas and to forsake the Zune Desktop client.

Of course, we've also heard a lot of rumblings that come Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8), Zune Desktop as we know will be completely gone. Instead, purchasing Windows 8 apps and music will be handled more natively by the OS itself and plugging in your phone will be more akin to the Active Sync experience back in the Windows Mobile heyday.

The other requirement, needing Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" to access the store is also an interesting move. Without going into specific details, Mazhar Mohammed explains "Requiring Windows Phone 7.5 is part of a larger effort aimed at improving Marketplace performance and security, and paving the way for even faster growth and more new features."

We're not sure what the engineering limits are that are forcing these changes but evidently Microsoft considers it a priority enough to enforce it in the Marketplace.

Regarding  the Zune Desktop situation we have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we have to recognize that it is very likely to be a thing of the past in 6-8 months and we need to move on. On the other, one could argue that Zune Desktop absolutely killed iTunes as far as usability and it was one of Microsoft's really innovative desktop apps, so we're sad to see it slowly loose functionality.

How do these changes affect you? Sound off in comments and let us hear your thoughts.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I don't really care about browsing apps on Zune, I just really hope it lives on in w8 as the default media player.. the current metro music & video apps in the consumer preview, loosely based on Zune, are total crap. MSFT seems to be moving in the wrong direction having the Xbox team take over for Zune...
  • Agreed.  I HATE the default MM apps in the Windows 8 CP.  I hope with the Release Preview in June, they will have updated it, or migrated the Zune client to replace both the Video and Music player.
  • They are crap, but they're also app previews. Hope that they've improved them in the Windows 8 Release Preview to be available early June 2012
  • Well on the windows 8 developers preview there is a windows store app on the desktop
  • Bye bye zune
  • Interesting move. I do use Zune to browse the marketplace sometimes. What about other content, like podcasts, videos, Music, etc ? Is this just for apps ?
    Personally, I would like it to stay the way it is. I have gotten a lot of apps from the Web, and it claims that it will be sent to my phone right away and days later, I dont see it till I manually add it. I know with Zune and my phone connected, if I order and PAY for an app, it gets delivered to my phone right there and with out delay.
    Edit: I guess it's live, that sucks...
  • Only apps.  Everything is staying in place for now.
  • So we repair including all generations iPads and iPods.
  • Is it just me?? I really like the Zune software! Microsoft better make a version of it integrated into Windows 8 or make Windows Media Player function and feel pretty close to Zune. And my wife uses it all the time and she loves it too. NOT COOL MICROSOFT! Just change the name if you need to, but keep my Zune software alive!
  • I agree. I switched to Zune as my default media player over Windows Media Player. Better organization, interface, and options. I really hope Microsoft keeps the Zune player alive.
  • Agreed, I love the Zune desktop app! Oh well, like the horrid MySpace look of timeline on Facebook, nothing we can do but bend over & take it.
  • I think I fall into the same camp. I've had a Zune and been using the software since the first version of Zune. I like it WAY more than iTunes, and hope it sticks around.
    However, I NEVER use the Zune software to browse WP7 apps, I only do that on the phone or on the web.
  • And I thought it was a bug...
    I see the point here and it is a decent argument but what if I am trying to download a 238MB game off the marketplace? The client is increadibly helpful there as it can handle such a big download - the phone, even over Wi-Fi, comes with its own set of limitations. Not only that, the client allowed much more control over the Marketplace. Editing your account, posting reviews, browsing apps was MUCH easier over there. 
    Not a great move for me personally, especially since they have no real alternative/replacement to back it up. Who knows, maybe they do have something planned for Windows 8 but that is a customer preview and not a final copy so maybe they should have waited till then.
  • Have you not tried the Web Marketplace?  You can provide reviews there and on your Phone.  Personally, I stopped using the Zune client for app purchases and browsing.  I use it for everything else though.
  • Unfortunately, as good as the Web Marketplace is, it cannot substitute for a full blown desktop client. At the end of the day it is a website and the experience is just, a little off the mark. Zune was perfect. Most of my purchases/downloads were through my phone though, I just liked using the desktop client to browse around the Marketplace - it just made up for a more pleasant experience (larger screen, more controls, related content, ability to multi-task). iTunes is still there and I don't see Apple dropping this off as it really makes logical sense to have the ability to manage apps on your phone on a client that was designed to manage your phone, you see?
  • I was about to ask the forums if anyone got a message when they opened up their Zune software Ha.
    And yeah, I understand what's happening but I don't like it, I guess mostly because I still use my Zune(s) quite a lot and I feel as if i'm being pushed aside. . . 
    I guess i'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that Zune the devices are no more, and Zune the software will soon follow. At least we still have the service I suppose, but it's not realy the same.
    Maybe we should do something to get MS to release a last hurrah Zune device that will work with Zune pass and even have a Metro UI.
    Honestly, Zune has an absolute cult following, those of us using it would follow it to through the end of time-- ope, there goes the Zune fanboy in me lol  but I think you get the point.
    Well, I guess I better send in my Zune and get the most out of that warranty while I can. The screen has a crack on it D:
  • What I would like to see is 3rd party manufactors making media devices with the Zune Interface on it that works with Zune PC Client & Zune Pass.A HTC Zune device would be sick IMO. I prefer having a "dedicated" Media device cause Smartphones have horrible battery lives & not enough memory either but that's just me.
  • I totally agree.  Why wouldn't Nokia or HTC just take one of their WP7 phones and remove the phone portion.  Leave it so that it is WiFi only with a better battery.  Basically a WP7 Ipod.  I would buy several of those.
  • For me personally, I never browsed for apps using the Zune software.  I found it to be harder to find what I was looking for and unintuitive.  Browsing and downloading straight on my phone is easiest for me.  I also only use the web based marketplace to restore apps that I had deleted.
  • I like Zune :(
  • It still shows Zune HD apps wtf?
  • That's because there is no other option that the Zune HD to browse for apps.
  • Why wouldn't it?
  • I love love love my Zune! Stuff already has stopped working on my Windows 8 pcs, please be integrating all the Zune features to the Xbox stuff and rebranded! Interface, experience and features were the best...they must absolutely keep the screensaver style player, I wish they had put it on the phone. =(
  • Doesn't botherme. I think I've d/l'ed 1 app via Zune in the last year.
  • Fine.  I'll adapt.
  • Thanks for the article, just plugged my phone into my tablet for and saw the message. Not really a big deal as you can also go online to send apps to your phone.
  • Something I have always wondered, is Zune = Tune? What new names can we think up that don't have x, i or Xbox in them? MetroMusic?
  • To the future, keep it moving
  • Hmm mine still shows the apps guess I better not close it, apply Windows updates, reboot, or anything...
  • MS is really forcing everyone to update & No love for Zune HD. I should of just bought a stupid iPod.
  • This sucks! The Zune software is a beast! Plus I still regularly use my Zune...
  • I don't use it for anything app related...
  • I actually got used to using Zune for apps early on and still did until today.Not a big deal but kind of a surpise that they'd just spring it on us like this with no warning. I get the feeling there's more to the story than the explaination like maybe prepping us to say goodbye to the Zune brand as everything gets rolled into Xbox, but, it is what it is.
  • As long as they don't mess up with the playlists and the DJ functions of the Zune software (which aren't part of the app system) I'll be happy.
  • Still rockin' with my Zune, in large part because there is no Windows Phone with enough storage capacity to hold all my music. I really wish Zune desktop was being integrated into Windows 8. It works, and it works well. Meanwhile, waiting for Microsoft to get the bugs out of the Windows 8 Marketplace. I've been able to download two apps. Four others are stuck in limbo and refuse to download.
  • Samsung Focus with a 32 GB SD card sounds plenty to me :/ (plus, it's cheap too...)
  • Oh yay, looks like this was the reason I couldn't log-in to Zune for the last 3 days.
    But I was just able to log-in right now! WHOO!
  • You think so? I've been logged in and streaming tons of music the last week or two, and no problems. It also just gave me the "Restart zune to see the changes" message. I wonder why you weren't able to log in.
  • Personally, I think Microsoft has been an abysmal failure in terms of music ecosystem, and Zune is just part of that.  I resisted the iPod and iTunes, mostly because of the low bit rate that Apple originally offered on purchased music.  So I bought some Sanyo MP3 player that was highly rated and used Napster.  But the usability of that solution was not great.  On Windows, I have Zune, Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center, and none of them is a music store, I don't think.  The last straw was when I tried to use DLNA to get music to my Onkyo home theater receiver.  What a joke.  I had already been moving to iTunes/iPod, so I bought Apple TV 2 so I could get my iTunes music to my home theater.  The main difference between Apple TV 2 and DLNA is that Apple TV 2 works, flawlessly, and DLNA was a complete failure.  With the Remote Control and Onkyo apps on my wife's iPad, I can route music from my computer to either Zone 1 or Zone 2 of my home theater and change the volume.  When will Microsoft products provide a music ecosystem that is even 80% of the Apple music ecosystem?
    I think the best thing Microsoft can do is throw away every application they have that is related to music and start over.
  • I guess you like being charged up the áss for every single song then. At least on Zune for one simple monthly fee you get unlimited streaming of music and videos to ANY device whether it be PC,Zune,WP or Xbox it will work. iTunes only offers a preview of each song and/or video before you are forced to purchase it.
  • Exactly why I love Zune. Plus I get credits a month. So in reality, what am I paying? 5 buck or less. For me it's a great deal.
  • My Xbox 360 does all that and more...hehe...
  • I use my old Zune 30 everyday. Got a 60 gig drive in it. The Zune software rocks compared to iTunes
  • The rumors mill never picked up these changes. Interesting.
  • Never used Zune to browse apps so no big deal there. I do like it as a media player though and general synching software. Some stuff is still annoying though like how youre forced to use smart DJ instead if just having a random button for your entire library. Its definitely heavier on the system too. Whenever I use it on my aging laptop it sometimes slows down my machine whereas the standard win mp does not.
  • You aren't forced to use smartDJ you can set it to use collection instead and the Zune player on desktop does have random/shuffle, actually learn before posting misinformed nonsense.
  • Lol butthurt much. I just went back and discovered you have to double click on artists and then double click on songs and hit play. Is a shuffle all button on the home screen too much to ask for though?
  • You are stupid. You're moaning about your own problems, not Zune's. Microsoft or Zune can't take responsibility for your sheer stupidity.
  • Holy crap the internet is defensive. Im sorry, Zune is great, youre probably super smart, and I bet everybody loves you.
  • Good boy. =) Yes, they do indeed, how did you know. =') Love Zune like the internet loves me child and all your problems shall go away.
  • Alltho I agree with you that the capabilities are already there if you just know how to use them, I do think that your attitude is a bit on the wrong side. You sound more like an Android-user defending the laggish GUI. :P
  • I love my Zune software. Not so much for apps but for music and pics. Well I at least we can still use it for least for now. :-)
  • Maybe the name "Zune" will be gone and the App will be integrated into W8 or MM will receive Major Update to look more like actual Zune Software.
  • I don't think it will be bad to have the phone sync app again as long as you can save your files like before. Other thing is system updates. Right now you need Zune to update your phone. How is this going to work now? If it's through the sync app that will be ok.
  • I've never used it for apps, never felt the need to. Only used it for getting upgrades.
  • I dont care what it's called as long as it's metro, and has a clear and defined relation to WP, and W8.... But, I do like the Zune name over Windows Media Player...... It's all probably going to be called simply the marketplace.
  • I never liked the.Zune name nor cared much for the Zune.Desktop software, so I'm all for the OS-integration thing.
  • Maybe this has something to do with backend resources, one would imagine that if you remove unnecessary browsing if the marketplace servers (Zune client) the system would be less bogged down. Or could also mean that MS wants to start evolving the Zune client to what it will be when win8/phone8 comes out. Everyone knows win7 & 8 are going to co-exist for some time.
  • And as usual people are complaining over something small, I never used it to download apps,just updates and tag songs.
  • Zune had a couple minor issues but overall killed iTunes in usability and even more so in creating an engaging visual experience. Hope its DNA lives on W8.
  • Good. I only used Zune to sync music and photo to my phone. I always used my phone or web site marketplace to get apps.
  • Love Zune but honestly , never used it for apps. I always use or my phone..always thought it was kinda pointless so no worries here:D
  • I could care less about Zune market downloads. However as a Zune lover for music I have to say that Win 8 preview music player is utter garbage compared to Zune. It is the single most important factor for how much I'll enjoy having wp8 if it follows the format of the preview. MS has already shown the Xbox team is worthless with how piss poor they integrated into Xbox 360 dashboard. Despite how much I love wp7 I'll still consider going back to droid if MS screws up zune for wp8 or windows 8. Zune smart DJ is one of the biggest reasons I went with wp7 despite all of the other reasons I love it now. MS really should have someone like Steve Jobs calling the shots for uniffying all the platforms. Be cruel to your teams and don't accept anything but the best.
  • What about the music? Where do you organize it if not on Zune? The rest I couldn't care less.
  • Nothing happens with music. Go launch Zune and still use it. Will Zune be in Win8? Nope. Music will be handled though the OS/Media Player and store.
  • Well since I have the latest firmware and can't Interop unlock, everything sounds good to me. I never use Zune for my apps
  • I was in the process of leaving iTunes for Zune. And I use a Mac! I have been watching dedicated Zunes on eBay... I lucked out not ordering one I guess. :-/ I can deal with not being able to get apps through Zune but I do hope MS makes so that you can re-download all at once all your apps when you get a new phone or reset an existing one. Even with Reinstaller it takes FOREVER.
  • Rip zune
  • Seriously, the Zune KILLS iTunes when it comes to visuals and user experience. I just hope that MS would just integrate Zune into Windows 8, even under another name that's fine.
  • I hope the Music app is simply Zune+.
  • I love Zune, one if the better peices of software out there. And destroyed iTunes...god I hate iTunes...
  • Totally Agree!!!
  • Agreed.
  • As long as Microsoft doesn't do away with the Zune client, I don't care. I use it for music and podcasts.
  • I'm going to say I'm about 50/50.  I pretty much get programs from the phone but I do a l ot of pod cast listening and I review and gather them through Zune
  • Microsoft is really starting to disappoint. Making me lean towards apple for the fact that apple gives it users what they want. No wonder more people have iTunes and iPhones. I love my wp7.5 and the fact that my new lumia might not get windows 8 in Oct, just blows. Isn't every iPhone able to have ios 5??? And now the best music client I've ever seen with its sleek design and UI and awesome screensaver now playing, is going to go away, I tell sooo many people to switch to Zune and everyone who sees it falls in love with it. Now it's gone! Fail Microsoft that's why apple has more loyalty.
  • See my comment above to smallmountain there's no way in hell that iTunes is better so get the fúck outta here with that bullshít
  • And what happens with the Zune pass? Do we only get it on our phones? Our phones don't have need enough space. And the Zune pass is a huge reason I prefer having a windows smart phone and computer over apple.
  • This is for apps, not music. I mean, go launch your Zune Desktop now and see if music is there...I bet it is. I wrote at the very beginning of the article "...starting today you, won't be able to purchase or browse apps using the Zune Desktop software." We said nothing about music.
  • Does that mean for the future WP users will need windows 8 on the computers???
  • So, how am I going to listen to my podcasts and keep them synced ? :-( . I guess it don't matter cuz MS knows best. MS tells you what you want and if you want to browse apps in Zune well tough, that's stupid and inefficient, kind of like wanting to use an up icon in windows explorer, or set the snooze time for your WP alarms. And when they decide that you don't need Zune, then goodbye. It doesn't matter how many of us are in the crazy cult that knows it blows away the bloated, convoluted, mishmash known as iTunes. TUFF, cuz they know better than you!
  • The Marketplace for apps, not music or podcasts. Very first sentence in the story. So your whole rant does not apply. here.
  • Yea, your right. I overreacted and ranted, probably because of the rumors I keep hearing about MS killing Zune or revamping it into something like Mediaplayer. I just checked it out and even though it sounds like I am just one of the few that browsed apps with it, there does seem to be a change I will definitely miss. I do not see where there is a list of the previously installed apps as before. I did use that a fair amount to help me remember apps I wanted to reinstall or when I got a new phone or after resets. I know you can use a phone app for it but with 650 apps it came in handy :-(
  • Metro came from Zune! They can't kill the ancestor who brought windows phone here.
  • So what do I use to manage my phone now? Or is this just removing the marketplace?
  • For now Zune will no longer allow you to purchase apps. That was the only change. Many people are just concerned about how that translates to the future of other Zune features.
    For example the windows 8 preview music player is similar to Zune except that it completely sucks instead of being completely amazing.
  • I like Zune as a player, but I just wish I had more control and options. I'm not going to miss Zune sync, I'd rather at least have the option to do it myself.
  • What? This is ridiculous! When I connect my device to my PC, I can't use the phone's marketplace (for no apparent sensible reason), so I have to use Zune. Otherwise, how can I install large games, apps and updates in a situation where I don't have WiFi?
    Why take away functionality that currently works fine anyway?
    I take it they won't be including "install an app using desktop software", in the next Smoked By Windows Phone then.. FFS..
  • Ever heard of the web marketplace? Guess not since you decided to post such a moronic statement.
  • Dude, chill. You're being a bit of a jerk in the comments section today, don't you think? No need to keep blasting people.
  • I have to say I will be sad when/if they get rid of Zune I think it just rocks and looks so much better than crwppy iTunes, I also love that (if your music is linked right) U get the lovely artist pictures and song title etc showing on the now playing bit which just looks gorg :)
  • I am sad =[
  • I agree with a lot of the responces in that I love the Zune client for music, however the phone functionality should be removed.
  • I love the Zune client for playing music locally. I have admit though I almost never use Zune for app browsing any longer, phone or web marketplace only.
  • LOOSE functionality? Where do I meet her?
  • No changes in Brazil yet...
  • We own a 16GB, 32GB and 64GB Zune HD's and use them daily. I know the hardware is phasing out but we want to contunue to use them for some time now. Will we lost this ability? And I totally love the Zune Software.
  • Since the web marketplace came out, I haven't touched apps in Zune (especially since most downloads originate from a link fro wpcentral).  I've pretty much forgotten it was there.
  • I don't like this at all either, I am in love with the Zune desktop client for all my windows phone and zune needs, it is a fabulous multimedia portal that i heavily use for my windows phone AND zune hd, they are crippling and killing it obviously. if enough of us feel strongly about this and are in agreement how can we get this across to microsoft?
  • Doubtful because Zune won't exist as a metro app. They plan to make metro music player as simple as possible while still looking like Zune. Personally I hate the music player in windows 8 so far. And I've always hated the way Zune worked on Xbox 360 (useless without a Zune pass). Lets just say I'm not overly excited over zune's future. IMO, ms needs to add smart DJ back into the windows 8 metro music player, and fix the Xbox version so that can actually play tracks from your PC music folders.
  • I would love to see active sync take over the syncing process on Windows Phone. As much as I love the Zune interface it doesn't handle the business aspect of tue phone very well. I'm sure that Windows 8 will solve this problem, just need the problem to be fixed now.
  • Not prepared for the change.  The only reason I moved to Windows phone is cause it synced well with Zune Desktop.  Windows 8 and phone 8 better be amazing or it's bye bye MS.
  • I have to say that I am a new user to the Zune environment but was shocked at how much more efficient it seemed than iTunes. Not sure what the deal is with iTunes but it really, really lags at times - in my experience anyway. The syncing and managing of your collection / library is actually quite good. Interesting to see how this is folded into Win 8.
  • While I never use the Zune desktop client for app downloads I do use it for syncing my music and general music player on my computer. Im not happy hearing that Microsoft is going to be replacing Zune with something else for syncing music. The Zune software is out and works why not just update it? Why create something brand new and change names when at least some people have heard of Zune. Zune is already an established music ecosystem dont see why things need to change. Plus i still have a working Zune 30 and would like to know that it will still be able to sync with my computer for new music.
  • That sucks. That was the only thing they designed with the metro "philosophy" that looked like it was designed at least decently. 
  • and XBOX replacing zune is a bad idea Xbox's application design is super ugly. 
  • looks better than the clunky menus of PS3
  • So all they did was get rid of the option to get apps for my phone through the software?  I didn't use that section anyway.
  • I agree this is somewhat disappointing as I really love the zune software and hope it makes it into windows 8 (and ph) improved...the current zune software is great and I use it everyday
  • The Best repair i phone agency iphone 4 repareren- Got an iPhone 4 where something needs to be repaired? Repairing an iPhone 4 can Repairlab. Repairlab has since 2007 experienced in repairing iPhones and other Apple products. So we repair including all generations iPads and iPods.
  • There's zero indication that MS sees the current Zune desktop software as anything other than a legacy product to be supported with minimal resources until they can stop supporting it.  Which is a pity, because it's still my music player even though I no longer own a Zune device.
    It seems odd to me that the default music and video player in Windows 8 suck (from everything I've heard), I mean isn't the media player something they would have to, have to get right this time to have a successful release?  The very fact that there are two separate players for music and video is a fail, right?