John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

‘Zune’ Means Always Having to Say You’re Sorry

zune.jpgNo wonder expectations for Microsoft’s Zune run so low–the company encourages them. Touting the newest iteration of Microsoft’s digital music player in an interview yesterday with the New York Times, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates (pictured above, right, with J Allard, VP of design and development for Microsoft’s entertainment division) described its predecessor as half-assed. “For something we pulled together in six months, we are very pleased with the satisfaction we got,” Gates said. “The satisfaction for the device was superhigh. The satisfaction on the software actually is where we’d expect to see a huge uptick this year. It was just so-so on the software side. I’m sure a year from now we’ll do even better. But I’m blown away by what they’ve been able to do in a year.”

Odd way to promote your iPod challenger, don’t you think? Apologizing for its mediocrity. “It was just so-so on the software side. I’m sure a year from now we’ll do even better.” And hey, thanks for the $250. We know you could have put it toward an iPod.

Anyway …

As expected, Microsoft unveiled an update to its line of Zune music players yesterday, adding its first flash memory-based models and debuting a new Wi-Fi feature that will automatically synchronize music, photos and videos with PCs in homes with Wi-Fi networks. The company plans to peddle the flash version of Zune with four gigabytes of storage and one with eight gigabytes for $149.99 and $199.99, respectively. A Zune with an 80-gigabyte hard-disk drive will sell for $249.99. All three will arrive at market on November 13th.

Accompanying the new players is Zune Social, an online community where Zune users can keep tabs on one another’s musical tastes and, in a perfect Microsoft world, discover new content they can sample and purchase. “The whole idea behind Zune is much broader than the devices themselves,” J Allard, vice-president of design and development in Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, told the New York Times. “The conditioned thought is around a portable device being the center point of the experience, when in fact it’s not. It really is about how do we start taking Zune beyond that device.”