The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the old saying goes. The cliché looks to be in full effect in Windows 8. No, Microsoft hasn't suddenly and miraculously decided to drop the contentious-to-some Metro UI for its upcoming operating system, but it will be killing two other branding efforts. Windows Live and Zune are all rumored to be going the way of the Dodo, dropped in favor of Apple-esque simplified program names.
Go ahead and scrap your plans to attend the Zune HD's funeral, the device isn't dead after all. We think it isn't, anyway. Actually, we don't know what's going on with the Zune HD, and it seems neither does Microsoft. News spread of the Zune HD's demise when an official support page went live saying Microsoft planned to discontinue the hardware, though it would still offer support. The message? If you're interested in the Zune, go buy a Windows Phone 7 device instead. Not even a day later, Microsoft has pulled the website and is backtracking on its obituary.
Sometime yesterday Microsoft started yanking references to its Zune HD player from its Zune website. WinRumors picked up on it and surmised Microsoft was getting ready to axe its media player, an assumption the Redmond software giant denied while chalking up the incident as "a mistake." That was yesterday. And today? The Zune is officially dead, folks.
Early on Monday, some users noticed that all references to the Zune HD were scrubbed from Microsoft’s website. It seemed an inevitable decision considering Microsoft’s new focus on smartphones, but the Zune isn’t quite dead yet. Noting the error, Redmond restored the ill-fated PMP to its obscure position.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft had finally made the call analysts had been expecting. The Zune player is dead. Instead of making Zune hardware for direct sale to consumers, Redmond will focus their efforts on the Zune software experience in Windows Phone 7. The company believes they have a stronger position in digital entertainment on the phone side, but they face stiff competition.
You've missed us. And we've missed you. In this regulation-length Episode 168 of the No BS Podcast, Gordon, Nathan, and Andy discuss the Overclocker (Maximum PC's official mixed drink), an unnamed tablet from Apple, and Xoom/Zune confusion. Then, special guest Nathan Grayson stops by, fresh from GDC, to discuss his favorite sights from the show floor.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are not standing by.
The Zune brand has died a thousand times, it seems, or at least been close to death. As CNet points out, reasons why the Zune has supposedly been on life support in the past are many (like poor sales), but not always accurate (the platform is thriving). Is there any reason to think things have changed? Paul Thurrott, who runs the Supersite for Windows, says his sources tell him that the Zune brand is on its way out for real this time, and that all Zune products and services will be shoveled into other businesses, like Windows Live. Here's what Microsoft had to say about that.
Just like Apple's iPhone doubles as a glorified iPod touch, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices include tight integration with Redmond's Zune platform. Every WP7 handset will come with Zune built directly into the Music+Video hub and will serve as the Windows-based PC sync client so users can transfer songs back and forth with ease.
In anticipated of the spate of WP7 devices coming out, Microsoft has begun rolling out an updated version of Zune, v4.7. New enhancements include:
First Connect: WP7 devices will auto update the Zune software upon first boot
HD Streaming Video
Photo Sync between WP7 handsets and PCs
Sync Media: lets users purchase music and videos through WP7 devices and sync content to their PC
Parental Controls & Rating on Videos
Get more info and the latest version of the Zune software here.
Things have been pretty quiet over a Microsoft regarding any upcoming Zune refreshes, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from bustling with activity. And why not, given that Apple just recently launched its newest iPod touch with a built-in camera and FaceTime support.
Rumors of an upcoming Zune player began earlier this month when ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley said that one of her sources "who has been a solid tipster on Microsoft-consumerish things in the past" told her that the Redmond giant plans to release at least one more Zune HD media player. The tipster claimed it would probably debut in 2011 and might come equipped with an ARM processor, along with a bunch of UI changes from the Windows Phone 7 team.
More recently, Microsoft put up a job posting looking for a Hardware Engineer to help with "next generation of portable entertainment and communication devices." The job is for a senior mechanical engineer in Microsoft's Portable Entertainment Group, the same team that designed last year's Zune HD.
Whether or not there's anything to these rumors, or whether Microsoft simply plans to let the Zune line fade away and instead focus on porting Zune features into its Windows Phone 7 devices remains to be seen.
Microsoft is no stranger to lawsuits, but the most recent case to cross the legal desk in Redmond has me wondering if they even bother to check their mail anymore. A new patent infringement case has been filed in a Wisconsin U.S. District Court which alleges that the Zune's "Buy from FM" service violates IP owned by Dr Edward Yavitz. The good doctor claims that even though he contacted Microsoft several times regarding the infringement, his plea's for a peaceful resolution landed of def ears. "I got no reply whatsoever" Yavitz told InternetNews.com.
Patent trolling is considered somewhat of a nuisance in the tech industry, but you have to feel for the guy when you consider that he filed the patent in question years before there was even an iPod. "They are definitely taking notice of it now" Yavitz said. It's likely that Microsoft's change in heart has something to do with Windows Phone 7 Series, which is more Zune than Windows Mobile. Assuming that Dr Yavitz has a case here, this lawsuit could get mighty expensive if Microsoft's new mobile platform actually takes off.
Microsoft officials declined to comment on the suit, or its merits, but when is that ever not the case?