A place where love is kept in the dream.
Now available at retail stores
Published on November 15, 2006 By Corky_O In WinCustomize News

For those who do not want to be locked into Apple's proprietary hardware, 'Zune' devices have now been released to retail stores.

These look like very nice devices for music, pictures, and video. They are also reported to play nice with both Microsoft and Apple files.

I feel like I may regret purchasing an iPod, now that my freedom has been shown to be limited - but that is a personal issue.

You can read more by clicking the link below.

"Let music fill the air" - Grateful Dead.


Comments (Page 2)
on Nov 15, 2006

This 'complaint' apparently holds true for the Zune, as well, since it needs it's own software for conversion, etc...

Actually, the 'iPod' software is required for the 'iPod'. iTunes just recently (beginning with iTunes 7) incorporated this software into the iTunes installer. So you still need both the iPod software and the iTunes media player to load onto the iPod.

The big difference I see is that the new offering from Microsoft will allow you to use (without conversion) the native file formats - .aac, .wma, and .mp3 - where the offering from Apple will not let you use '.wma'. This again leaves the fence in place between Apple and Microsoft, and could be considered a 'proprietary' issue.

In the defense of your arguement, the fact that the 'Zune' software only runs on XP w/SP2 and MC, still leaves something to be desired in the search for a 'one size fits all' solution. Thus, the "I feel like I may regret purchasing an iPod, now that my freedom has been shown to be limited - but that is a personal issue" statement in my opening. I would not even consider another device if the iPod would also allow the use of Windows Media Player and '.wma' files. Sadly, this is not the case.

The wireless capabilities of the 'Zune' may compel many to consider it as an investment for future upgradability. Microsoft has indicated that it will provide firmware updates for the devices. I am not sure that this would be the thinking when purchasing an iPod (I bought one strictly for listening to music while working out or jogging, where it replaced the obsolescent 'Walkman').

I do agree that the iPod is more versatile in many respects, but it would seem that Microsoft is trying to; (1) offer an alternative option themselves to gain a piece of the market, and (2) offer a slow 'peace' path where more direct interoperability between Apple and Microsoft is possible for the end user. As always, consumers are going to be aware that this is just as much a plan to gain profit as it is anything else, but some people may see the subtle possibilities of a unified technical world.

on Nov 15, 2006
And don't forget that they were coerced into paying Universal Music a ROYALTY to be able to sell them, also the wifi "sharing" is automatically lathered with DRM (Digital Rights Management) that only allows 3 plays or 3days storage.

Another important point here as well:

EVERYTHING that goes on to this thing is slathered with DRM, whether your original files were DRM'd or not.

Keep in mind that everyone of these things is supporting the corrupt major label music ogliarchy (um, industry) & the Recording Industry Ass. Of America, which I go out of my way to not support or the artists that are signed to these thieves.

I personally use a Zen Micro Photo, there are some features I would like to see that it doesn't have but I can get over that, and since I don't care about video playback it's perfect for my needs One major feature that I wish all of these media players had is the ability to mount them as a drive and not have to use ANY proprietary software except a driver to manage the files.
on Nov 15, 2006
I have 2300 + songs (all ripped from the original CD in WMA lossless format) which have to be in either .mp3 or .aac (.m4p) format to run in iPod....The 'Zune' can read all three formats (.mp3, .aac, and .wma) making it more compatible with multiple media formats, and thus with more 'stock' computers.


In this case, that would seem to make lossless WMA a "proprietary technology requirement" And, in fact, it's one of your own choosing, not one enforced upon you by the hardware manufacturer. You're choosing to go a different route from the rest of "us", but that doesn't make our players "bad".

I have 3 MP3 players, and none of them play WMA lossless. Only one is from Apple.
on Nov 15, 2006
Hey Wizop Corky O, I have Vista RC1 - never got around to downloading RC2, didn't think enough changed between rc1 & rc2 to merit spending the time to download another vista beta. Your vista rc2 will only run for so long and then you will have to purchase it to continue using it, I believe that beta 2, rc1 & 2 are only good for maybe 180 days but I could be wrong. I have also downloaded & used the office 2007 beta, and I think I'll stick with office 2k3.

Yes I still believe that Microsoft sells unfinished software to the public. I've been a system admin for the past 15 years and I've seen enough buggy software to know the difference.

I originally thought that Microsoft had designed the hardware for zune from scratch, turns out it's just a toshiba mp3 player with Microsoft software, no huge engineering feat there.

I think I'll stick by my first statement, I think Zune's first release will be less than stellar.
There are alot of mp3 players on the market, most offer better styling, less weight & size and better battery life than the Zune at probably competitive or better pricing. To be the best you have to beat the best, Zune is not an iPod killer yet.

It was nice to see someone reply to my comments, I often wonder if anything I post gets read around here.
on Nov 15, 2006

In this case, that would seem to make lossless WMA a "proprietary technology requirement" And, in fact, it's one of your own choosing, not one enforced upon you by the hardware manufacturer.

This is due to my owning the discs and having Windows Media Player, which offered the lossless format for free. I started going to concerts and collecting music well before CD's and was using the original 'Walkman' with cassette tapes. The iPod (or any other portable digital device) did not exist (outside of the old Sony D series DAT machines used at Dead concerts to record the shows) when I made my original choices. This lack of options at the time left the WMA lossless format as the best path to save my music with the best integrity possible.

The purchase of the iPod was indeed a personal decision, which included being required to convert the files to ones that could be read and played with the Apple offering. I really do like the iPod, but as I have mentioned, wish it was compatible with Windows Media Player and the '.wma' file format.

You're choosing to go a different route from the rest of "us", but that doesn't make our players "bad".

I apologize if it comes across as my thinking the other devices are bad. I have an iPod, and consider the 'Zune' to be a decent alternative for those who do not want to go the iPod route. The Creative products are reported to be good as well, but the article is recognizing the release of the 'Zune'.

Your vista rc2 will only run for so long and then you will have to purchase it to continue using it

Good until July 2007. Not bad for free, and the purchasable version will be the final release, so I would expect to pay for the work done by the engineers.

on Nov 15, 2006
Corky_O, by iPod software are you referring to the "Windows drivers" that must be loaded so Windows recognizes the unit? This hardly counts as anything proprietary or unique and Zune is not immune to this. Currently, you can't even use a Zune on RTM versions of Vista, which is really odd. However, you don't have to use iTunes with the iPod. There are dozens of 3rd party apps out there for Windows, Mac and Linux to interface with the hardware. There's even a plug-in for WinAMP.

Also, WMA/WMV is a proprietary MS format. One that MS would like all it's user to adopt, extremely restrictive DRM and surcharges included, but this hasn't happened yet. I'm not sure why you consider only those 3 formats to be 'native' - to what? An unproven player like Zune? Why would anyone want to use wma specifically? The iPod supports a heck of a lot more formats 'natively' and at better quality levels. It's no great loss that a proprietary, un-popular format like WMA is left out in the cold... No reason Apple should pay royalties (and pass that charge on to customers) when it support better formats already. ...and the iPod can currently be used on a multitude of operating systems easily without iTunes, as I mentioned previously. I'd say the iPod has the standards covered a lot more thoroughly.

Link

...and while having a "Wireless" music player is great in theory, the type as used on Zune is not very exciting or likely to be very usable... Assuming you can even FIND another Zune user, do you think someone really wants to waste time sharing files, only to have DRM added to them to where they 'expire' and cease to be playable after so many plays/hours? I'm, also, not sure what the wireless feature has to do with firmware upgrades, either.


Finally, MS isn't trying to unify anyone except for the purposes of locking them into DRM'd WMA...and the only reason MS is releasing it's own player now is that all the other manufacturer's can't seem to get their sh*t together and produce a player or a music store to make major headway in the market and garner MS money from it's DRM contracts. Finally, if MS was trying to push towards a unified technological world, don't you think they might start by supporting the very products they initially released and/or supported under the "Plays For Sure" banner and that is currently used by other partners like Napster, MTV, etc? MS is expecting the customer to re-purchase ALL their music all over again just to go from one form of DRM'd WMA to another (Luckily, hardly anyone purchases music from those small online retailers).

So, limited platform, limited formats, restrictive DRM. Nope, Zune doesn't look very compelling at all actually... even less so than it did before I found this article today.
on Nov 15, 2006

jtfolden,

I would say that the three most popular 'computer' file formats for all current users would be the three mentioned: .aac (native Apple format), .wma (native Windows format) and .mp3 (probably the most common format thanks to 'WinAmp'.

By native, I mean to the operating system.

Whether you like the 'Zune' or not, it is still an option for other users. The firmware updates due to be released (at least based on current review knowledge) are to improve the wireless technologies, which - I believe - will include blue-tooth technology. This would obviously allow users to interface with the sync functions wirelessly (probably a big plus for the notebook user who does not want to carry extra wires).

As for DRM, are you saying that Microsoft is behind the DRM? Or the music industry? If it is really Microsoft, would you not expect an 'anti-trust' lawsuit to be in play by now?

What is it you believe that the PC owner needs to install to use an iPod? Drivers only?

on Nov 15, 2006

Here is an article that popped up about DRM in the broader application http://www.eff.org/IP/DRM/fair_use_and_drm.html

Based on this, I can't see blaming Microsoft for this one.

on Nov 16, 2006
Zune is a joke and most of all a very weak attept to take over the ever dominating iPod. I think this is Microsoft's expensive way of getting attention since Vista is also a joke as well. Sorry but I'll give XP two more years before I even think about an upgrade. Imagine a Retail version of Vista with all the Viruses waiting to go off on the release date. And Yes!!! Zune has WiFi but wait I need another Zune to do that. Go get a PSP if you want to transfer pictures wirelessly. Well good luck to you Apple rebels out there go retaliate with Microsoft's new Zune.
on Nov 16, 2006
Corky_O, you seem to miss a BIG difference between the three file formats under your concern. One of them is not like the other.

WMA is a proprietary format created by Microsoft for use on Windows and by Windows Media Player. It has virtually no solid or official support on any other platform. MS even pulled their Windows Media player off the Mac, intentionally limiting it's use even further.

AAC and MP3 are independent, standardized formats supported across all modern operating systems from Windows to Mac to Linux, BSD, Unix, etc... AAC (developed by the MPEG group that includes Dolby, Fraunhofer (FhG), AT&T, Sony and Nokia) is not an Apple created or native format of their OS and, even though the standard was originally proposed in 1997, it wasn't even included in iTunes until around v4.0 and the advent of the Music Store in 2003.

Obviously, the Zune is an option - simply because it exists. This doesn't make it a good one. If for some reason iPods didn't exist there are still plenty of better options available rather than the Zune (itself just a do-over of the Toshiba Gigabeat). Also, I'd love to know of any solid source for a firmware update being able to deliver a hardware feature (Bluetooth) nor does this make it able to sync with a PC nor connect to the 'net.

Finally, there's no reason to debate the initial legal impetus that brought about the industry need for DRM, I'm sure MS would love to forego it and sell even more units - HOWEVER, it's no secret that the DRM as used by WMA advocates under the "PlaysForSure" banner has generally been greatly more restrictive than that used by Apple in it's Music Store. For example, songs from the iTunes Music store can be played on up to 5 different computers, copied to as many iPods as you wish and can be burned to CD an unlimited number of times. I haven't looked yet but my guess is MS had to intentionally avoid it's very own PlaysForSure initiative with Zune in order to attempt to provide similar terms.

I'm afraid I don't understand your last question. You don't HAVE to use iTunes with the iPod if you really have some beef with it. Other options are available. Are you complaining because you can't use Windows Media Player with the iPod? Because you can't use a Zune with WMP, either.
on Nov 16, 2006
I have a Samsung MP3 player, and I'm perfectly happy with it. Easy to use, and smaller than either the ipod or the zune...

same

ps u can use ipods with winamp
on Nov 16, 2006
Like many of you I have been watching the developement of Zune in anticipation of making a purchase as I didn't have an iPod or MP3. Slowly info came out about the Zune and over the past week or so I decided that this was one to put on the 'back burner' until all the hype and initial interest had died down so I have just purchased a Philips GoGear WMA/MP3 Player - a bargain from Wal-Mart and I am very pleased with it.

As far as desktop media players are concerned I have been a long time user and admirer of WINAMP. Several years ago I found it a far better alternative to WMP so I was a little sceptical to see that my new purchase was to be used with WMP 10. I'm not a great lover of WMP.....But hey, I thought give WMP a chance. I was pleased to find WMP does the job well of 'managing' the task of getting the songs, ripping them and syncing them into the player so I thought lets have another look at it as a standalone 'desktop player'also. I can now see why I like WINAMP so much. The one thing that I found several years ago was that the sound quality on music playback produced by WINAMP is far superior to that of WMP. The gap between the two seems to have got even greater. No matter what tweaks and plug-ins I tried the WMP just would not come up to the quality of the little WINAMP. Bless her.

Zune looks a great step in certain directions but I think a lot of people will hang off buying one until the dust settles
on Nov 16, 2006

I misunderstood the inclusion of AAC for the iPod, as I thought this was the selected format by Apple for the device along with mp3.

I believe my point  - other than pointing out that there was another alternative available - is that I did 'not' want to have to install another media player on a computer to use the iPod. I still do not see an alternative without installing yet another media player. Perhaps I am missing something here.

I do not have a beef with iTunes, in fact I believe it is one of the better media players, yet it still seems rather redundant to install additional players.

Blue-tooth would obviously need an attachment. The Wi-Fi - according to one review at 'Gizmodo' as follows:

"Microsoft's put in WiFi on the Zune, which even though it doesn't seem to be a big draw to consumers now. The hardware paves the road for them to do various other "scenarios" with the Zune. In the future, via software update, the Zune should be able to possibly do stuff like share songs over the internet, wirelessly sync with the computer, stream music/video to other devices, and much more. The hardware is there, but it just needs to be activated by software. Microsoft's decided to focus (wisely) on making the Zune simple to use and intuitive for people to pick up. Something that we think they've achieved."

Thank you for the debate. Obviously, the newer products (especially from Microsoft) will not have an easy time of it.

For my closing, I would like to state that I still believe the 'Zune' to be a nice little device with a lot of potential.

on Nov 16, 2006
I absolutely LOVE how people are pointing fingers at Microsoft for the DRM issue. Do they point that same finger at Apple?
Are you so blind that you can't see who is really to blame for all that DRM junk? Do you think Apple and Microsoft would want to introduce that junk to their players when it would have been easier for them not to?

Its the RIAA at fault for all this DRM stuff that is overtaking the DAP (Digital Audio Player) World. Seriously, grow up, look around and really know who is calling the shots that is giving us, the consumer, headaches.

As for conversion and format issues, that is just being plain silly. AAC 'Advanced Audio Coding' is heavily patented, not to mention mp3 and wma are too. Notice both companies avoid Ogg Vorbis, because with Ogg Vorbis and its Open Source Licensing they can't DRM it (refer to RIAA). Plus if you are really hard up for a conversion software to encode your lossless files into lossy grab foobar2000. It can convert and play pretty much any format under our sun.

The only DAPs that do not require software are ones with Universal Mass Storage Device enabled. iPod does not have it, I know because I have a 2nd Gen. Nano and I use iTunes just so I have no headaches with it, but I use foobar2000 to convert my audio files into Lame 3.97 Final Mp3s (-S --noreplaygain -V 3 --vbr-new). The reason I don't use iTunes AAC or iTunes Mp3 is because it only accepts WMA, WAV, AIFF as input, but seeing as foobar2000 does them all and converts with tags preserved to mp3 I use it to convert instead.

To think people still can't use google to find alternatives to Windows Media Player or iTunes to see that they can do something as simple as this as well in this day and age is disheartening. It makes me think that humanity is still taking that proverbial step backwards instead of forwards.

I may know more about converting to all sorts of formats (musepack, flac, monkey's audio, wavpack, etc.) and I don't expect you all to know all that but simple stuff should be easy...or as a silly TV advert says: "If you know iTunes..." well you should know how to use Google, Ask.com, Lycos, Webcrawler, Yahoo, Mamma, Scroogle.org, so and so forth to learn this stuff for yourself.

After all, computers are what you make of them.

Another funny point...Microsoft's First Gen. DAP is being openly compared to a 5th Gen. Apple DAP...is that sad or happy?

I do love how you can change the background of your display in the Zune and how they went with some other design instead of just listing text on a solid background (Apple). Maybe this entrance by Microsoft will make Apple get off its pompous arse and do something more innovative in the next iPod than just adding gapless playback and fixing the bugs.

Rant Finished...for now.

- X-Man
on Nov 16, 2006
Corky_O, well I guess your posts were unclear to me then because you complained about having to use iTunes instead of WMP and were positioning Zune as a better alternative in the same breath - another player that needs it's own software instead of WMP. Didn't make any sense to me... So what you're really saying is that neither the iPod or the Zune are what you really want.

---

Xiosan, I think everyone here knows WHY DRM exists. The simple fact is that Apple's FairPlay has been less restrictive (and is even less restrictive now than when it was first used) compared to most of the WMA "PlaysForSure" providers. I've never run into one of the limitations when working with my iTMS purchases but, for example, a friend who uses Napster had to pay $1 when he wanted to burn tracks to a CD, can only burn them once, etc...

As far as file formats go, I'm not preferential for the most part but it's incredibly easy to convert from one format to another. I just use one that works easily on all the OS platforms I regularly operate. WMA doesn't cut the mustard there.

What's 'sad' is that MS felt it had to revamp someone else's player and dump on it's own original DRM initiatives (thereby cutting it's partner's throats) to stay in the game.
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