No love for the Zune

So, Redmond’s shot at the portable music market is out, and the pundits have noticed. Unfortunately, the big boys (Mossberg at WSJ and Pogue at NYT) didn’t care for it, and now the mass market is weighing in. Check out this video clip from CNN’s morning show; it’s clear the anchors are pretty underwhelmed with what the Zune can’t do, and even go so far as to ask their gadgeteer “Why can’t they [Microsoft] get some good designers in there?” after the other announcer pulls out her new iPod Shuffle to brag about. Oops.

Oh, and it gets worse. First, instead of making the Zune store experience simple and clear, like the iTunes store, the Zune store is priced entirely in “points,” which Microsoft makes you buy in $5.00 lumps, even if you only want to buy one song. This translates into people making no-interest loans to Microsoft, which I don’t think is what people mean by “microfinance.” WTF?

We almost forgot! The Zune’s much-tauted “sharing” feature over WiFi works only for that — you cannot download music from your PC with Wifi at all. Also, if you share a song, it gets a 3-day time limit for your buddy even if you ripped the song from CD yourself (i.e., this limit is attached to songs not purchased from the Zune store). Speaking of DRM, not only will the Zune not play iTunes songs (which is huge, since the iTunes music store is one of the largest music retailers in the US — only Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon sell more music), it also won’t play any songs from Microsoft’s previous effort at online music sales (known amusingly as “Plays4Sure”). That’s right: they expect you to buy that shit again. There’s more Zune Q and A here.

Finally, according to Microsoft itself, the Zune doesn’t work with Vista. Are those guys even trying? Yeah, we know it’s a first effort and all, but with a multi-billion-dollar war chest, you’d think they could make something that didn’t suck.

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