No Zune for you! – at least on Monday and Tuesday

The Zune service will be down for scheduled maintenance on Monday, September 29, 2008 from 12:01am Pacific Time, for up to 48 hours. During the downtime, Zune Social, the forums on, and all of Zune Marketplace will be offline.

We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you.

Please check back soon. We look forward to sharing our picks, plays, and recommendations with you in the Zune Social and in Zune Marketplace shortly!


Your Friends at Zune

Battery life and Wifi – the *** in the Zune 3.0 armor

If you’ve installed the new Zune 3.0 software and firmware update, are you using the new Internet connection functions to Zune Marketplace and Zune-to-Zune gaming?

Both my daughter and myself each have a Zune.  She has my hand-me-down Zune 30 (original) and I have the newer Zune 80, so I have been able to test this on both models.  Unless Microsoft has beefed up the battery life of the new Zune 120, I’m sure that it, too, will suffer from the problem.

The issue is that Microsoft recently announced a partnership with McDonald’s and others to provide free Wifi access to Zune users.  The new Zune software allows Internet access to Zune Marketplace (new feature) and also connection features for Zune-to-Zune song sharing (not new), Zune-to-Zune community (not new), and Zune-to-Zune gaming (new feature).

So, both my daughter and I have been burning up the Wifi wires using the cool, new Marketplace connection.  You can basically access Zune Marketplace directly from the Zune and download songs, check lists like “What’s New”, “What’s hot”, etc.  Really cool feature.  However, this EATS battery juice like nothing I’ve ever seen!  The Zune hardware is simply not made for this feature.  While it works great, it only works for what seems a few minutes at a time before you have to charge the Zune’s battery.  This is a major reason why the Zune battery should be user replaceable so that you can keep spares on hand.  My daughter sat in our living room yesterday, searched Marketplace, downloaded 2 albums, and had to recharge her Zune.  That was after starting from a full charge.

So…all of this cool news about “free Wifi at McDonald’s” isn’t really great news at all because just as soon as Zune users start to download songs while eating their Big Macs, their Zune will go dead before they can say: “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun”.

Luckily, Microsoft keeps improving the Zune with each model and each software/firmware upgrade, so maybe they’ll pay extra attention to the battery life in future models.

I’m still a Zune lover, but I recognize the limitations, and will have to work around those to get the best enjoyment I can out of the hardware.  Why can’t anything be perfect – ever?

Zune 3.0 software is much kinder

The latest update to the Zune software handles downloads, synching, and performance much better.  Download my daily Podcasts and synching the Zune would generally cause a slowdown of my computer.  Not anymore. 

Good job Zune crew!

2 options for audio books on the new Zune software – one brings back fond memories


Zune 3.0 allows you to connect with either or to download and listen to audio books on your Zune device.

“Cool!” you say.

What’s interesting about this? is the company that was huge into eBook processing for Microsoft for their MS Reader format eBooks that never took off. slipped off into nothingness as Microsoft stopped promoting the MS Reader format (which I liked, btw.  Best eBook format there was at the time – and much better than having to deal with Adobe’s horrid software and file formats).

So, is this a way for to make a comeback?  I really don’t thing so, as they are up against which is a pretty popular option for audio books.

So, what is offering the Zune crowd?

A free, easy-to-use application, OverDrive Media Console allows you to download and enjoy OverDrive audiobooks, music, and video on most Windows computers. Use OverDrive Media Console to navigate, play, and bookmark OverDrive media titles, and to manage and customize your media library. OverDrive Media Console grants you the added functionality to transfer media to supported portable devices and to burn CDs of audiobooks and music (when allowed by the publisher).


But…are the books supposed to be this expensive?


The new Zune clock

Nothing special, but a useful gadget…

Zuneclock 001

You enable and disable it in the Zune settings…

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You can choose to display it or not.  Change the display format between 12hours an 24hours.

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And, you can set the time.  I don’t see that the Zune can update the clock on its own.

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The Zune 3.0 pictorial software installation

Here’s a photo view of my installation of the new Zune 3.0 software.

1st screen:


2nd screen:


3rd screen (checks for updates, prepares computer, installs the software):


4th screen (installation success!):


The Zune software layout has changed a bit:


Sign-in is not automatic, even though you may have chosen that option with the previous version:


You must go online and accept the new terms of service to be able to use the new Zune 3.0 marketplace.  Enter your Zune email address:


Give them some additional info (same stuff as in the previous version):


Next tells the 3.0 software that you have read the new terms:


Interesting “Channels” option in the new 3.0 software:


What’s a channel? explains:


After you hook up your Zune for the first time after the software installation, new device driver software is installed for your computer:


During the software setup after the device driver installs correctly, you must start the actual device upgrade through the Zune software.  Notice that you have the option to install GAMES!


Games on the Zune, you say?


The Zune device has to be updated to take advantage of the new software updates.


The Zune ROM update:

Zunestuff 001

The Zune is rebooted 3 times during the process before you get the success screen:


Next you have to (once again) link your Zune Tag to your device:


And, after everything is updated, your Zune device must synch *everything* again.  I suspect Microsoft is updating the DRM on the files you have.


New Zune features…

Radio – Add Song to Cart:

Zunestuff 003

Zune Marketplace option:

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Zune Marketplace drill-down:

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Games included (if you chose that option during installation):

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Texas Hold ‘Em (in landscape mode):

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Hexic (standard portrait mode):

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New to