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zune pass

We first saw AT&T offering a free Zune pass back when Windows Phone first launched--anyone remember the "free entertainment pack"? It now looks like they are returning to a similar offer, along with Amazon Wireless, for a limited time (through June 26th) but instead of one 30-day pass, they are offering three-full months.

Valued at about $45, it's not a huge offering but lets not kid ourselves: the Zune Pass is one of the best things Windows Phone has going for it and something the competition is lacking (although Apple is making strides in this area and Google/Android is working closely with Amazon).

Your three-month Zune Pass ($44.97 value) gives you: unlimited access to over 11 million songs to stream or download; access to music on your Windows Phone 7, Xbox console or PC; and 10 free songs per month to download and keep forever (30 Songs total)

We doubt this is a make-or-break deal for potential new customers, but it sure sweetens the pot, especially since the much coveted and praised Samsung Focus goes for $49.99 at AT&T or the low-low $0.01 at Amazon Wireless. Head over to http://www.freezunemusicnow.com/ to get your Zune code.

Source: Amazon Wireless, AT&T; Thanks, Anthony, for the tip

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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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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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For those of you who have not yet joined the Zune network, Microsoft is giving away 3 months of it for free if you pre-order a new device with Windows Phone 7.

In the U.S. (where this offer is only valid, sorry ROW), this adds up to a savings of $45 ($14.99 a month) and is a great way to give the Zune music and video marketplace a trial three months. As mentioned numerous times here, a Zune Pass allows unlimited streaming and downloading of music to your phone, Xbox 360 and PC, plus you can "keep" 10 songs a month (MP3).

According to Microsoft:

Sign-up to be notified to pre-order the new Windows Phone, and we’ll give you unlimited music for 3 months with a Zune Pass—FREE*. Just give us your email address. When Windows Phone is ready to pre-order, use the same e-mail address you sent to us, and when your Windows Phone ships, we’ll send you a 3-month Zune Pass, free.

Not a bad deal if you ask us (especially since we're huge Zune Pass fans, but you knew that already).

[Microsoft via Neowin.net]

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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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