Update: Zune is dead :(
Well it’s actually regenerated into Xbox Music. A lot of the content on here is still valid but the links may not work. Go to music.xbox.com for full details
Don’t you just hate the fact that sometimes you need to install bloated, slow iTunes to download and organise your music collection? Well stress no more, coinciding with the release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft have opened up Zune to international waters.
Zune goes where you go. Whether on your PC, Xbox 360, or Windows Phone 7 you can enjoy, discover, and share your entertainment anytime you want. zune.net
What’s a Zune?
The Zune software is a media player, originally designed to manage Microsoft’s own mp3 player (iPod competitor) the Zune. You would use the Zune app to sync your music to your device or download new music from the online marketplace. It is very similar in functionality to how iTunes works with iPods. However, it differs dramatically in it’s design. You can’t help but be impressed with how the software works. I installed it a couple of years ago, even though I didn’t have a Zune (as I’m in the UK) purely because it looks so good. I could also use it to download podcasts so I could sync them with my generic mp3 player.
So what’s new?
With the release of the new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7 (WP7), Microsoft have started from the ground up with their phone design. It tightly integrates with your Windows Live Account, which in turn is linked to XBOX Live and Zune Social. These phones will be widely available from November. Microsoft decided that the Zune software would be the way that people would sync their apps, data, music & movies from their PC to their Windows Phone. Therefore they released an update that enables this. You can download the new Zune 4.7 software here. They also unlocked the Marketplace (to download music and apps) and Zune Social. Zune Social is like a gamer tag for music. You can use the social.zune.net website to discover new music and see what your friends are listening to. Take a look at the social page for The Crookes’s brand new album, Dream another Day
When you sign up you get a profile page to show off your music tastes and can you can even unlock badges after reaching a certain level of plays! My profile is here if you want to take see what it looks like. The best reason to sign up, however, is to buy music. If you love listening to loads of new music one of the great things about Zune is it’s subscription service called Zune Pass.
Get unlimited access to the music in Zune Marketplace with Zune Pass. Download as many songs as you like and listen to them for as long as you keep your Zune Pass up to date. You also get to keep 10 of your favourite songs each month, forever.
Subscriptions start from £8.99 a month but you can also get a free 14 day pass. That’s pretty good value for money and its something Apple is yet to offer. My other favourite subscription service, Spotify premium, costs £1 more per month and doesn’t allow you to keep the music. It also means you can listen to your music on your Phone or Xbox (or any other compatible media centre).
So what are you waiting for? The software runs on XP upwards and deserves to be explored, even if you don’t have a phone or want to subscribe it is a much better way to enjoy your existing music collection than iTunes, Windows Media Player & Spotify combined. You also get features like the mini-player, Quick Play, an easy way to rate tracks and Smart DJ (a bit like iTunes Genius) to create playlists on the fly from similar music in you collection.
I’m off to update my album info (they even made that slick) but let me know what you think in the comments