Goodbye Zune, hello Xbox Music

Goodbye Zune, hello Xbox Music

Summary: The Microsoft Zune was one of the best products and services ever, but never gained a large following and is now being transitioned into Xbox Music on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox 360.

TOPICS: Mobility

I purchased my first Zune back in 2006, have been a Zune Pass subscriber since 2008, and upgraded to a custom Zune HD in 2009. I was always a big fan of the Zune because I understood the value in the Zune Pass and thought the audio quality was better than the iPod. Thus, it is a bit sad to hear that the Zune brand is ending as Microsoft transitions to Xbox Music with the Xbox brand being the single brand for multimedia content.

In my opinion, the Zune was a fantastic device and platform, but no one ever really knew much about it and it was not aggressively marketed by Microsoft. I understand the transition to the Xbox brand since that is very popular and should help bring in even more customers. I understand that Xbox Music will appear on the Xbox 360, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8 in the near future. The Zune Pass has changed as Microsoft did away with the free song option, although I am still grandfathered into the old plan and continue to build up my song collection 10 songs a month.

My Zune HD still performs well and I use it for working out and enjoying fantastic audio. It is small and extremely well built and I intend to use it until it dies. My iPods all seemed to die just after the one year warranty ended, but my Zune HD has now been going for about three years and still looks brand new.

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Topic: Mobility

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  • 10 free songs is a great value

    I am grandfathered into the 10 songs free as well. It is really an unbeatable value.
    • it does make a difference

      $10 a month makes a considerable dent in one's budget. how would one afford to build a song library if not for this option.
    • Same here.

      Lets me buy the new stuff I like, while the other 4.99 is worth the price so I don't have to rip all My CD all at once, just take my time, use the subscription service until I get around to getting the CD onto the computer.
      William Farrel
  • Misty-eyed revisionism

    I worked in the electronics department of a big-box retailer about five years ago, and the Zune sat side-by-side with other media players (the Apple line was on an end cap... there's your marketing effort).

    But it wouldn't have made any difference if it HAD been on an end-cap. "Plays For Sure" had just burned everyone; we still had third-party inventory that touted it. In a similar vein, the Zune's "sharing" feature was presented as something truly open, but once you learned of its restrictions, you felt a little like a sucker for even considering it.

    Plus, let's face it, Zune was never as visually appealing to the masses as the guys "on the end".

    I never sold a single Zune; the same 2-3 players gathered dust, behind glass, my entire tenure. No one even tried to break in and steal them.
    • Plays For Sure was a non issue.

      Saying that was a concern for buyers is like saying that the new car they're looking at had AC Delco spark plugs instead of Champion, so they moved on.

      Nor did MS use a multi-million dollar advertising plan as Apple did. Or did you forget that every 6 commercials on TV seemed to be iPod commercials, with U2, and others? The ceiling to floor sign displays? The window displays? To say the only advertising Apple did was to buy space on the end cap is leaving "a little something out".

      Visually appealing? Well except for the brown one (which was ugly), not that big a difference in style and looks vs the iPod.

      Add to that [i]I never sold a single Zune; the same 2-3 players gathered dust, behind glass, my entire tenure. No one even tried to break in and steal them[/i]

      Well, the big box retailer you worked for also had employees that didn't push them. People said "I want that iPod thing" and they took them right to it. If someone came in to ask about MP3 players, the employees walked right past everything and handed them an iPod. That's not a failing of the store or MS, instead a failing of the average big box retailer worker - just go with the safe, easy thing they know, so I can believe that. It suffered the same fate as all the other MP3 players.

      I worked at a big box retailer in the past, too. I know the drill. ;)

      Not seeing this "revisionism" you're talking about, as he isn't changing anything, just telling us his experience, and preference.
      William Farrel
      • A failing of logic

        I gather you're saying Windows is inferior too, because the very same "failing of the average big box retailer worker" that is responsible for the sales of Windows? Or is that different? Rather than objectively listening to the customer, the average retail worker pushes Windows on everyone, even where it doesn't logically fit. There are people that an iPad would be a better fit, yet the sales flunky pushes that Windows license, because that's what the Microsoft retail conditioning team told them to sell.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Right, Jumpin Jack Flash! So they'll sell them a Linux machine

        Oh wait - Linux isn't compatible with Windows software. Most Printers don't have Linux software. Most OEM don't really sell much in Linux either, so I see how its the same thing. Why would anyone sell a customer who owns MS Office, PC games, and wants to move them over to the new system, a Linux machine?

        Actually, it's not. MP3 player, with similar music services, capable of playing the same Ripped MP3. Qualify and show them all the things that will work for them, not the one MP3 player you know. It's no different then buying a TV - same signal plays on all TV's.

        If they want a specific machine, and it's Windows so be it. You'll notice I said if somebody walks in and wants an iPod, that's what you give them, as you have to assume they did their research, or already wanted it. Just asking for "an MP3" player is different.

        You just [b]hate[/b] anything that doesn't paint MS in a bad light. We get that, but you're trying to win an argument with something unrelated.

        [i]yet the sales flunky pushes that Windows license, because that's what the Microsoft retail conditioning team told them to sell.[/i]

        You are easilly one of the most paraonoid anti-MS zealots here.
        [i]Microsoft retail conditioning team told them to sell[/i]
        What, under penalty of death? :)
        William Farrel
    • Microsoft Marketing

      Of course, if Microsoft had actually bothered to TRY to market the thing it might have been more appealing. I can't help but think, Microsoft's attitude was "It's Microsoft, everyone will love it".
      • Microsoft doesn't know how to market anything...

        Microsoft doesn't know how to market anything... except Xbox. I guess it can be argued that they know how to market Windows & Office, but I'm not even sure that that's true. They just know how to leverage the near-monopoly they've built.

        The reality is that, in a lot of ways, Zune was superior to the iPod when it first came out... but Apple had more songs, better marketing, and then leapfrogged Zune's wifi capabilities with the iTouch... and then that was pretty much the end of Zune. Microsoft was too slow.

        Windows Phone is also a superior product, but Microsoft is running out of time to get it right. If Windows 8 & the new Xbox/SmartGlass ecosystem doesn't rescue Windows Phone, I'm not sure that anything will. I really LOVE Windows Phone & hope it succeeds, but it's hard to be optimistic with Microsoft's poor track record.
  • Distrust

    Deservedly, many consumers (including me) didn't trust MS in this market, even though Zune was probably quite nice. That is one factor to consider. The other is clever marketing and admittedly usually appealing design on Apple part.
    The first generation of ipods had at best average hardware and sound quality (the hardware put limits on audio processing), worse that any other top offerings at the time, but most consumers were not aware of that.
  • Goodbye Zune

    We hardly knew ye.

    Play us out, Steve:

    "We came into the [media player] market, a market in which they are very strong, and we took, I don't know, but I think most estimates would say we took about 20-25% of the high end of the market, We weren't down at some of the lower price points, but for devices $249 and over we took, you know, let's say about 20% of the market. So, I feel like we're in the game, we're driving our innovation hard and, uh, okay, we're not the incumbent, he's the incumbent in this game, but at the end of the day, he???s going to have to keep up an agenda that we're gonna drive as well." (2007)
    marc van hoff
    • And they're still here

      differnet name, but hopefully nothing changes
      William Farrel
    • Too bad you can't say goodbye to that fat loser Ballmer.

      Zune - FAIL
      Windows Phone - FAILING
      Windows tablet - FAIL and will FAIL again.
      • Lol

        Lol, Keep telling yourself that and we'll see who's where in 3-4 years.

        You hold on to that apple stock lol.

        If history has taught us anything it's that Apples proprietary nature leads to bankruptcy... it's done so twice and will do so again.

        I suspect you probably haven't even used a windows 8 tablet or phone.. but hey, educate us.
  • Xbox Phone?

    It is high time Microsoft renamed its Windows Phone to Xbox Phone or XPhone or whatever. Lets face it, "Windows Phone" is not sexy, in fact it causes a lot of confusion amongst noobs, many thinking it is windows on a phone. Xbox brand is the way to go for MS for all non-IT, non-PC products. Xbox Phone with Apollo onwards may just give that much needed push to the MS smartphone endeavor.
    • Windows 8 should be renamed...

      It's a new OS. A new UI. It deserves a new name. Otherwise, like you state, everyone will think it's Windows XP on a phone.
  • For the 99% the smartphone has replaced the dedicated mp3 player. ipod

    is down significantly. whoever captures the smartphone will effectively own music gps, personal gaming, credit card, camera, and soon video as well. And the list is growing. Dont worry about MS, soon theyll be selling more X360 Music devices every week than they ever sold zunes.
    Johnny Vegas
  • The history of MS hardware is poor

    I have an unsupported fingerprint reader and a SideWinder Commander to prove it. All wonderful products that MS dropped support for when the OS version changed. I'd rather buy from a hardware vendor that is going to stay with their product support.
    • Oh, and that wouldn't be HP either..

      nuf said
    • Are you kidding?

      I still am using the Microsoft DSS80 speakers. Never a single problem with them.