Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

Summary: Recent questions about the future of the Microsoft Zune music/video service have remained largely unanswered. But my contacts have shared a new, relevant piece of the puzzle: "Ventura."

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Recent questions about the future of the Microsoft Zune music/video service have remained largely unanswered. But my contacts have shared a new, relevant piece of the puzzle. And that piece is codenamed "Ventura."

Ventura, from what my tipsters tell me, is the name of a set of services being developed by Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices (E&D) unit. These services are focused on music and video discovery and consumption. They sound, from my sources, as though they include recommendations, ratings and comments.

Here's a recent Microsoft job description I found mentioning a Ventura Media Services team:

The Ventura Media Services team is looking for a highly motivated Software Development Engineer to help drive some great new service innovation.

Who are we? We are Ventura Media Services - an agile team working on the beginning of some very large scale projects. We incubate, innovate and iterate. We are all about building services the right way. The team is a tight group of music and video lovers that create services and experiences revolving around music\video discovery and consumption. We are not afraid to try new things in the name of pushing the bleeding edge of technology.

As a member of the team, you will work closely with all of our partners to release features on a rapidly iterative development cycle. You will get the chance to work with other IEB product teams to help deliver epic end-to-end scenarios across all 3 screens.

In this position you will have the chance to help choose direction and drive innovation on some of the most cutting edge media services. Think large scale. Think Azure. Being a web and services group, our goal is to release early and often while maintaining high quality. If you are a proven developer that likes to drive innovation, then this is the place for you!

From what I've heard, I believe the Ventura services are being built by the IEB Services team headed by David Treadwell. I blogged about this team recently, noting it was adding a number of Microsoft services veterans including Distinguished Engineer Don Box. (Box, by the way, also happens to be a musician. Anyone remember his "Miguel My Belle" ode to Miguel de Icaza at the 2003 Professional Developers Conference? It was a classic.)

Does Ventura end up replacing the Zune music/video service? Does it end up complementing it in some way? Will Ventura end up built into future Xbox consoles, Windows Phones, and Windows PCs? I've still got a lot more questions than answers. In fact, the only answer I did get from Microsoft about the future of its Zune service is that the company is "committed to providing a great music and video experience" -- which may or may not be Zune -- across its various platforms.

Topics: Microsoft, CXO, IT Employment

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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14 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

    I have to say that I love my Zune HD, and the product is good enough that, after using mine some (I rarely let it get away from me), my wife bought her own. I hope that MS is working to improve and expand the services.

    I also hope that MS doesn't leave its current users out in the cold while developing for other, newer devices. The "three screens" comment scares me a little, as it is questionable if they are thinking of Zune players and WP7 as one "screen". Sadly, evidence to date says no.
    jglopic
    • Ventura = PlaysForSure MarkII

      Microsoft previously had a music service called PlaysForSure.

      PlaysForSure was supposed to compete against iTunes and iPod. Of course, like all Microsoft mobile products, it failed. Users and OEMs were left stranded.

      Then Microsoft made the Zune, which was Microsoft's second attempt against the iPod. It failed.

      Now Microsoft is going to go back to making a music service, with Ventura.

      Ventura = PlaysForSure MarkII
      Vbitrate
      • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

        @zndac
        Please refrain from comment unless you understand the subject matter or do research. Playsforsure was a DRM and certification system, not a music service.

        @jglopic
        3 screens means phone/player, TV and PC. The target for Ventura will be an integrated music service that supports all of these. As @Chrisrichner points out, the difference between them would be in the UI targeted at touch, 3 foot and 10 foot experiences. My guess is that the Zune users (Zune Player, PC or WP7) will be seeing evolutionary changes not revolutionary since users (not blog commenters) have been so supportive of the current Zune experience.
        PhoneBiz
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

    I like the sound of this "a rapidly iterative development cycle."
    frankwick
  • Sound's good, finally merging 7MC, Zune, WMP into one single product?

    Did I forgot to mention an app Microsoft has released to manage ones music?

    I really like 7MC, in fact I'm using it daily to watch TV or hear music.

    To have everything nice and shiny in 7MC I need to manage everything in WMP, otherwise 7MC has no content to provide, right? ,)

    I'm also fallen in love with my wp7 samy omnia, now things start to get complicated because I need to manage the same libraries again in Zune.. Don?t get me wrong, I really like Zune and prefer Zune over WMP because it has no tendency to screw up the library...

    I'm really looking forward to one app in the flavor of Zune (Metro) but with deep integration of all devices (Zune HD, WP7 etc.) and services (Play To, DLNA, Media Streaming etc.) and UI Concepts (10 Foot UI, 3 Foot UI, Touch) !

    Nice side effect, one needs only to manage the lib in one tool serving all purposes and devices...

    A media center enthusiast!
    ChrisRichner
    • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

      @ChrisRichner
      You say that Zune " has no tendency to screw up the library".

      However, there is one other problem I have discovered with Zune.

      If I change any of the meta-tags on any track using the Zune interface, I am no longer able to open that file with an audio editor (I use Sony Sound Forge). It throws up an error saying "the file format plugin for the specified format was not properly initialized".

      Any suggestions for a remedy, anyone?
      jaykayess
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

    Gee, could we get WP7 development on that team?
    kimreyj@...
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures

    I like Zune a lot but the recommendations could be improved. Whether this replaces or compliments Zune, I hope the end results is a more powerful music product.
    hrahim
  • Cody Langman

    MSFT should have gotten rid of Windows Media Player (and potentially Windows Media Center) a long time ago, with all media services incorporated into one program. I hope that program remains Zune. Great hardware, great software, and multiple platforms (XBOX, Zune, PC, WP7).
    Cody_Langman
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

    Maybe Treadwell could hire Jim Allchin back ;)
    Kip Kniskern
    • LOL

      Via a reprise of "JimAll, My Belle"? MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

    Doomed to failure.
    james347
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

    If everyone would learn how their given player actually works and operates there would be a lot less bashing of said products. Such negativity on different products just tells me all the more alot of stupid people griping over a product that they dont know how it works, get mad and say bad things about it because they know how to complaine. Come on people, understand your product and get with it before you can complain about it ( Oh wait, you're complaining about your self stupidity and blaiming it on product ). I see clearly now.
    dishnetman
  • RE: Microsoft's music/video services futures: The plot thickens with 'Ventura'

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