Editorial

Why was the Zune brand so hated?

History has not been kind to Microsoft's Zune.

Despite being killed as a brand last year – and killed as hardware in 2011 – the Zune name still remains the brunt of many pop-culture jokes. The Simpsons disparaged the Zune music player last year, and Saturday Night Live did the same last month.

But why?

Microsoft's Zune portable music players were well received critically, despite the consumer perception. When the Zune HD was released in 2009, for instance, CNET gave it a score of 4 out of 5 – the same score it gave the 2009 iteration of the iPod touch. The devices were primarily known for providing strong audio quality as well as long battery lives. Similarly, the Zune Pass was mostly praised by those who used it.

Though the reviews were almost universally positive, however, the Zune hardware never caught on. It’s possible that had to do with the original Zune players appearing to be iPod knock-offs (the Zune 30 featured a circular input button that look similar to the iPod’s).

Another issue down the road came when the Zune HD, Microsoft’s competitor to the iPod touch, was released without much in the way of app support. Granted, the company never claimed the device would compete with the iPod touch in the app realm, but the lack of forward thinking in the app category likely cost Microsoft some potential purchases.


My Zune HD is still pumping out great-sounding music after more than three years.

The actual capabilities of the devices weren’t the problem, though. The problem came down to perception, and for whatever reason, the Zune brand as a whole had a horrible consumer perception – and it’s still hated to this day for some reason.

When I purchased a Zune HD shortly after its launch in 2009 – well aware of the lack of support it would have in terms of apps – not a single person thought I’d made a wise decision when informed I’d purchased the device.

“Ew, I don’t like Zunes,” one friend even told me, despite having never used one. A similar response came from a laughing co-worker. When I showed people the device, however, the response was always different – always positive.

People hated the Zune HD without having ever even using it, yet their opinions changed when shown the device.

At the end of the day, people who used a Zune music player knew it was a quality device. It far surpassed the sound quality of Apple’s iPod line, had an easy-to-use interface and was cheaper than the equivalent iPod to boot. Still, that didn’t change perception – something that continues to make the Zune brand the brunt of pop-culture jokes, likely from people who haven’t even used a Zune.

Since the Zune was killed off, Microsoft seems to be changing its tactics as a result of the brand’s failings. But what if consumers have caused Microsoft to focus more on perception and less on the quality of its music and video products and services?

Now Xbox is the company’s catch-all entertainment brand, encompassing games, music and video. But while Xbox has alluring console gaming hardware and services, the same can’t be said about everything else Microsoft is slapping with the Xbox logo.

The Xbox music and video app on Windows Phone shares a similar interface to what was found on the Zune HD, and the Xbox Music Pass is essentially just a rebranded Zune Pass with some changes here and there. But beyond that, it’s the small things that are missing from the Zune software and hardware.

For one, the Xbox Music and Video apps on Windows 8 and Windows RT are fairly terrible. Microsoft’s proven it can make great media software, but for some reason these apps were released in incomplete states.

The Xbox Music app has a poor interface that makes navigation a pain in the ass. There’s no quick way, for instance, to get to artists that start with the letter “Z” in a personal music collection – you have to scroll all the way to the bottom. Beyond that oversight, there are plenty of other issues that users of the app are more than willing to point out. 


The initial reaction to the Xbox Music app has been less than stellar, to put it mildly.

Similarly, while much isn’t required of a video app, the Xbox Video app makes managing a library impossible. Personal movies can’t have their titles edited (that requires a trip to the desktop), and they can’t be added to the “Movies” or “TV” tab – they’re relegated to being classified as “other.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, HD movies purchased on an Xbox 360 won’t show up in the Xbox Music app for Windows 8 and Windows RT, even though Microsoft says they’re supposed to. The problem has persisted since launch, and despite user complaints, Microsoft hasn’t acknowledged the issue. Paul Thurrott even brought the issue up in an article published last month.

My Zune HD hasn’t died yet, and I plan on using it until that unfortunate day happens.

When my Zune HD does inevitably meet its demise, I’ll pour one out for my dearly loved homie, as it doesn’t deserve to live in a world where it’s less respected as a brand than Xbox’s non-console entertainment offerings.

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People hated the Zune in the same way people used to hate android (I'm talking G1 and around then). If it wasn't apple, it was crap.
Android was able to get past that image. If microsoft where serious about zune, they could have broke that barrier. They didn't though.

Well, couldn't buy one. And it came on the absolute shrillest top of the Apple hype wave. It was such an obvious me-too product only years too late. I'm still wondering what MS thought they would accomplish with the Zune, other than being ridiculed on the the 'net.

lol I never knew they were "hated", owned many and still happy with them . Simplistic and straight to what you want.. Never had any so called music or protection issues and I have tons of music..
It had some things iPod lacked and vice verse... I agree the Social was silly because I didnt know many with a Zune xD

Maybe my lack of not listening or watching TV is how im confused of where the hate is. Glad to see people still rely on public media haha. Zune was perfect just wrong way of putting it out there, Zune did exactly what it was made for..

Complaints about slowness with the Zune must be on something... I literally could post a vid of my Zune still working like a champ!

Zune software was the best >>IMO<< as it was simple and I didnt have to deal with the pain of iTunes or the possibility of losing my library or my music on the device..

I loved my Zune, i bought one on Ebay and had it shipped from the US to the UK and although I don't really use it anymore, that is more down to me not listening to music as much as I used to.

I have a Zune HD and can say without a doubt that it's the best portable music device ever. Unfortuanantly, the brand was universally hated and there were under a hundred apps available for the device (& they took about a minute each to start up -.-) and the screen size was a few quarter inches small. The glass is stronger than the glass on any other phone I've used (apparently Gorilla Glass 1 is way stronger than 2), and I actually didn't mind the lack of speakers (though Bluetooth would've been nice, to connect it with my speaker). it's sad the public hate for it killed their investment in it - the software was years ahead of anything in iOS or Windows Phone, at least in music-playing.

Lots of things held the Zune back. Everyone likes to think the reason that mattered to them, personally, was the only actual reason--just look at the European posters who are completely unaware of the stigma of Zune ownership. To them, that reality simply doesn't exist because they're too caught up in their safe, cozy world of complaining about American products that don't make it overseas, and those complaints simply MUST be the reason why the Zune failed.

So we have this huge page of comments going back and forth between the two: stigma vs. foreign markets. Nobody's talking about other factors, like how stand-alone MP3 players were losing mind share to smartphones and increased focus on integration.

I don't understand why people always want to think there's only ever One Reason for something, that it's always obvious, and that their perspective is the right one. I sometimes wonder if we hate analysts so much just because they're required to do SOME amount of research before issuing a conclusion. In the face of any amount of research, our knee-jerk and subjective opinions almost always come across as wastes of breath.

Yea but the post isn't why it failed on the market but why it was "hated". The reasons why people hate products are usually more singular than the reasons why they failed.

My point up above was just to say that if another company made the product -- whatever shortcomings it had -- it wouldn't have been hated so much. I think that much is obvious.

I loved my Zune HD as a piece of hardware. I ended up selling it, however, when I got sick of using the horrible Zune software to load songs onto it. That's what killed it for me. I loved how zippy and intuitive the device was though.

The Zune failed because Microsoft made a half-*****attempt to compete against Apple. The Zune HD at least since it was a competitor with the Touch, could have opened the door to Windows Phone UI in a very awesome way.

The Zune HD had the hardware capability to run what is today Windows Phone apps. MS could have easily ported Windows Mobile apps and enhanced hem based on the capabilities of the Zune HD.

Zune Pass as a subscription would have only been second to iTunes or maybe on top if MS had an SDK for apps and really went out to grab media outlets to get on board.

It failed for a simple reason: HIDEOUS ****ing interface. The same reason Windows Phone 7 / 8 are failing and the same reason that Windows 8 will fail.

runningnak3d said,
It failed for a simple reason: HIDEOUS ****ing interface. The same reason Windows Phone 7 / 8 are failing and the same reason that Windows 8 will fail.

I suppose page upon page of static icons in a grid format is better?

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks Xbox Music is an abomination. Sure MS, rebrand Zune to XboxMusic, but why did you have to F'k the client up so throughly?

It was said in the first few comments.
Zune failed because it was USA only. There is nothing more or less regarding its failing.
It failed miserably because most people in the world could not even buy it. There is something called a "critical mass" when selling a product; it is what made iPods and Gangham Style massive, Zune never got critical mass because it actively excluded 90% of people.

Licensing issues is a joke. iTunes, Spotify and many many others striked licensing deals. Microsoft had no interest in licensing outside of USA and failed because of it.

bits said,

Licensing issues is a joke. iTunes, Spotify and many many others striked licensing deals. Microsoft had no interest in licensing outside of USA and failed because of it.

It also took ages before MS opened up the store for WP7's in some EU countries, I still wonder why MS is so slow when other companies get it sortet out within a blink of an eye.

Bought a Zune HD the day it came out and still LOVE it to this day. The brand was only "hated" by elitist *******s who buy iCrap.

Im not sure if it was a perception problem with the Zune name, but rather the Microsoft name.
Microsoft had a horrible rep then, one they are just now starting to rebuild. People knew then that Microsoft could axe it at any given moment, and also they had horrible marketing for it. I loved the Zune HD, probably one of the best mp3 designs made, but I resisted getting one because knowing that Microsoft wasn't doing anything to push it and try to compete with Apple they would soon kill it off. Microsoft had their chance when the iPod touch first came out with the Zune but didn't capitalize

Not so much hated, as never taken seriously. It's like, Microsoft (SO NOT COOL!) is trying to challenge the iPod by Apple (VERY COOL!). Laughter, or some such.

It also didn't help that the Zunes arrived two or three years too late. I'm not normally one for the "late, therefore irrelevant!" argument, but in this case it applies. The tech world was starting to move on from dedicated-purpose PMPs to all-purpose phones, when Zune arrived.

There's lots of issues with xbox music player on WP8 - but "no quick way to get to artists that start with the letter “Z” " is not one of them.
Select artists, touch any 'letter' and select Z - takes you straight there.
You don't have to scroll down at all.

oak79 said,
There's lots of issues with xbox music player on WP8 - but "no quick way to get to artists that start with the letter “Z” " is not one of them.
Select artists, touch any 'letter' and select Z - takes you straight there.
You don't have to scroll down at all.

He wasnt talking about Phone 8. He want mentioning Windows 8 (Pro and RT). Which it does not give you the sorting letter to choose to jump to that.

XBox Music is a joke right now and I agree with ALL the complaints in here. They should have just rebranded the Zune client to Xbox music. I miss my Wifi Sync. (Cloud is a fail. I cant delete the 5 albums of CHristmas music that keeps spooling into my plays).

my friend has one and loves it and like just recently bought one. i have the Zune software partially for nostalgia and more for the awesomeness it does in burning, ripping, and organizing my library albeit small but growing thanks to my Zune music pass.

Still love my 32Gb ZuneHD. I do remember people made fun of me because I insisted buying it even though they spent time to convince me that an iPod would be better. Yes, MS failed in marketing this. It was their last straw and they gave up way too soon, probably believing themselves it will fail just like the Kin. Maybe the right decision for the Kin, but not the Zune I still believe.
Anyway, I could care less of the mocking I got because I got a wonderful device that does everything I need.

The Zune brand wasn't hated... it just wasn't promoted enough. It was a very strong and well-made brand, but the didn't invest enough into it.

Still have my Zune 30, which I had to get from a shady source as it was not sold in Canada. Still works great and has the best FM radio I've seen in an MP3 player.

Having said that, I've never actually met anyone who hates the Zune brand, most people did either not know about it or simply weren't interested (usually because they really liked the iPod).

Back then, that device was really cool and different... MS does things in unique/creative ways... why should they have to just build a boring typical device? They later improved on it with the sexy Zune HD.

j2006 said,
Back then, that device was really cool and different... MS does things in unique/creative ways... why should they have to just build a boring typical device?

That's a false dichotomy. the opposite of a "boring typical" device would be one that is exceptionally *beautiful* and easy to use.

Edited by Deactivated., Feb 10 2013, 10:59pm :

CSharp. said,

That's a false dichotomy. the opposite of a "boring typical" device would be one that is exceptionally *beautiful* and easy to use.

What's so beautiful about a piece of hardware?
If looks where #1 everyone would own a X-Box instead of Wii or PS3.

comes down to the fact that haters are gonna hate. they hated xp, win 7, all the same. didn't matter.

they can't stop windows. sorry. we're in the post apple world.

its not even that zune sucked its more so like, "hey im microsoft and am late to the party but try this out!"....but we've been down that road before, and it turned out so bad and horrible we don't want to to go down there again

Why was it hated? A person is smart but people are stupid. The mob mentality was "ew, it's a Zune" so everyone gave into it. I myself had people say the same things. Then I showed them the HD and they couldn't utter one logical drawback to owning it apart from just... "ew". Like children that didn't want to sit next to the smelly kid (that wasn't really smelly but everyone said he was).

The Xbox Music and Video apps are TURRRIBLE though. Honestly, just awful. MS should have just rebranded the Zune desktop software. I hope they redesign it because it's NOT helping their cause.

Also my wife and I are still rocking our ZuneHDs!

The Zune just didn't get a chance to do well, even though it had several nice new technologies and features.

At the time Zune was trying to get 'coverage' in the Media or any attention, Apple was using the iPod as their swag that they were giving out in massive numbers to anyone that had anything to do with a media company.

If you worked at GE, and GE gave you free iPods, Apple gave them to GE. (They did it this way, so that NBC journalists did not have a 'conflict' of interest because it was GE giving them the product, not Apple directly.)

For more voiced media/news outlets Apple was not only throwing iPods at them, but iMac as well. I know a lot of people in various print and television media companies that got 'review/evaluation' versions of iPod and iMacs with no expiration or return date on them. One of my best friends had to return several Macs that were sent to her department by Apple as a 'gift' because of her companies direct relationship to another major TV network.

There are also a whole set of users that were just flat out given products by Apple in return for positive reviews. Chris Pirillo loved Vista and Microsoft, up until July of 06, when he really started to hate Vista. This was the same month Apple gave him new screens (which you can still spot in his video podcasts) and new iMacs for his office. This is when BIG problems with Vista were all he could talk about, like how HP didn't yet have drivers for his 5 yr old scanner/printer for Vista, 6 months prior to Vista's launch date, and how horrible Vista was because of this massive FLAW. (The timing of the free products from Apple were by accident, which he later admitted were NOT by accident and his opinion pieces were tainted crap.)

Right on! I remember going to Bloghaus at the 2007 CES, There were top bloggers from like 30 site's there and that issue of "Review Units" was heavilly talked about as causing bloggers to play favorites with certain venders.

If they had come out with the Zune HD first, instead of the chunky piece of brown they did come out with initially, then they might have done better.

The fact that they didn't sell them overseas was ridiculous.

I think hate is a bit of a strong word. I remember when the Zune first surfaced I felt that it was too little too late because the market started to shift towards smartphones. I did stop buying iPods and I started buying Zunes because Microsoft updated the software and added features.

I put it down to media bias by most of the tech pundits who worship apple. Most of them were ****ed and still is that MS actually got something right, it wasn't perfect but it was on the right track. The zune 30 was not the best looking device but the UI and functionality was 100 times better than any comparable ipod at the time.

I still have my 30 and 80. b4 that I had an apple ipod. The zune was a better device overall. Better UI and software.

After using zune since 2006 then windows phone I personally think Microsoft used the zune devices and services as test bed to build up their online infrastructure for windows phone because some of those feature are still in windows phone. I miss wireless sync, play count tracking,the ability to send files to friends etc.

Hopefully they do something about the crappy music and video apps on this version of windows phone and windows 8 because the old zune pc client should have been re-branded as xbox music and made the default media syncing tool. btw what happened to the Kin studio software? that would have been a great online tool.
http://www.engadget.com/2010/0...ll-your-content-to-the-web/

The branding and the product itself were excellent. Zune Pass, Zune HD, and Zune PC software were all exceptional. The reviews online reflect it too.

I think people just really loved the iPod and didn't feel that the Zune was different enough. MS seems to have learned from this and marketed and designed the Surface so that it is distinct enough of a product to not be seen as an iPad copy.

I think the other problem was that the music industry gave too much power to iTunes and in the early days iTunes music only played on iPods, so anything else was seen as inferior. Fortunately it seems like TV companies have learned from this mistake and are refusing to sign deals with Apple over AppleTV.

If MS could do the MP3 player wars over again the Zune would be PlaysForSure compatible (PFS now that's bad branding) there would have been one store called Zune instead of dozens like MTV's Urge and every company that made a PFS mp3 player would connect to the Zune store.

Personally I felt that the silly name held it back. Doesn't matter how great a product is if people feel like a right plum asking for it in the shop. This is why you'll never see a Lamborghini Wibblybib

(I feel the same way about Bing - sounds like the noise my microwave makes)

I actually like(d) the name. My guess is that the poor marketing behind it, as well as restricting it to US-only was what killed it. I still wish MS hadn't replaced the Zune software at least with the horrendous POS that is Xbox Music.

Pygmy_Hippo said,
Personally I felt that the silly name held it back. Doesn't matter how great a product is if people feel like a right plum asking for it in the shop. This is why you'll never see a Lamborghini Wibblybib

(I feel the same way about Bing - sounds like the noise my microwave makes)

Yet you accept that 'iPod' or 'iMac' or even 'Google' are normal sounding words? They might be more 'common' to you, but are just as silly sounding.

I can remember back as a kid laughing at the sound of 'googol' when it was a term introduced to us in math class. (And yes this is where Google came from and is pronounced the same silly way.)

thenetavenger said,

Yet you accept that 'iPod' or 'iMac' or even 'Google' are normal sounding words? They might be more 'common' to you, but are just as silly sounding.

Agreed, but Google was/is a phonetic corruption of an existing word that does have a relevance to the subject (the unfathomable amount of information that is available).
Same goes for iPod, iPad etc - i can stand for interactive/information/internet/intuitive or whatever you feel and Pod and Pad are existing words. I can't think of anything that Apple uses that is made up word . On a similar vein I did like the use of the XBox - X sounds mysterious/marks the spot/can be anything and Box is exactly what is is
I just think it may have been easier to market it (and yes, the marketing was horrifically poor) if it had a more professional, aspirational sounding name.
Having said that, I didn't buy one so I was part of the problem!!

thenetavenger said,

Yet you accept that 'iPod' or 'iMac' or even 'Google' are normal sounding words? They might be more 'common' to you, but are just as silly sounding.

iMac came from the Mac, which came from Macintosh, a variety of apple. iPod and everything else came from the iMac's successful "i" branding. It was a natural progression.

Google wasn't an overnight success. It had a slow build-up. Time enough for people to learn and accept the name.

Zune was something Microsoft (notorious for being uncool) pulled out of a hat and tried to get people to like right away.

thenetavenger said,

Yet you accept that 'iPod' or 'iMac' or even 'Google' are normal sounding words? They might be more 'common' to you, but are just as silly sounding.

I can remember back as a kid laughing at the sound of 'googol' when it was a term introduced to us in math class. (And yes this is where Google came from and is pronounced the same silly way.)


They gave up on iWater.

lunarworks said,

Zune was something Microsoft (notorious for being uncool) pulled out of a hat and tried to get people to like right away.

Any proof for that claim?
I would say you just pulled that one out from where the sun doesn't shine.

Mineria said,

Any proof for that claim?
I would say you just pulled that one out from where the sun doesn't shine.

Which part do you consider incorrect?

I think some people just like to hate Microsoft.

People say its the brown version (which really wasn't that bad) or the name (not that bad) or the similarity to the ipod (not a big deal). But really, if Apple or Sony released the product those people wouldn't hate it so much. But because it was Microsoft that released it it was "Microsoft trying to be cool".

I think it was the name. It just doesn't sound great to me in general. Loved the devices, but I thought the name was kinda weird, didn't really strike me for a music device.

Oh man! syncing a Zune's friend was a pain, take me hours to figure it out how to, never hate a piece of software so munch!

Maybe the hardware was OK, but the software was the culprit here.

Exactly! The software was gorgeous, but totally not functional. It would screw up tags and album art all the time. And it was impossible to have files on a networked drive in your library because it slowed everything to a crawl.

volodoscope said,
It wasn't focused on music experience, it was focused to slow down Apple' dominance. People saw that, didn't buy into it!

Actually it was to showcase the PlaysForSure V2 technologies. Microsoft had trouble getting hardware MFRs to build devices, as Apple had sued virtually every company that tried to make an MP3 player, finally killing off Creative that had some success.

As with many technologies, when Microsoft couldn't get anyone to produce the hardware and implement their ideas for the hardware like peer to peer music sharing, they brought the product to market themselves, with hope that other MFRs would see the potential and create their own versions of the device.

Considering the PlaysforSure technologies predate most of what Apple was doing, and V2 still offers subscription and streaming technologies that Apple does not offer via iTunes, this really had LITTLE to do with Apple whatsoever.

Still rocking my Zune2. I would've gotten an HD if the storage sizes were larger. I wish Microsoft would release one final update and "unlock" it so it supports drag and drop access to it just as a "Thank You" to everyone who still uses them.

I wouldn't say it was hated. It just wasn't popular. And Zunes before the Zune HD used to brick A LOT. My 80 GB Zune bricked eventually, Zune 8 and Zune HD are still running.

My 80GB battery leaked and eventually exploded (not kaboom, more of a splorg) within the case. Just a few months out of warranty, of course. :\

My 4 year old daughter has inherited my Zune HD, but that thing was awesome! Have been using WP7 and 8 since their release, but always the Zune HD previous to that. Solid device.

My brother gave me his Zune before I went to Iraq. Next thing I know it wouldn't work after the the first of 2009.

Owned a 8Gb and a 120Gb, still got both and still work great.
However had to buy on import.....
Microsoft make some fantastic stuff, and then have a habit of making it hard to buy.

Still using my Zune 30g in the car its been in there since Zune launched and still sync's wirelessly with Zune Software on Windows 8 its taken the beating of being in the hot car in the sun in the summer and as cold as hell Wisconsin winters, I'm happy with it

Not only was player, Zunehd an awesome sounding device the Zune desktop client was the best piece of software MS ever developed. Now, we have the bathtub abortion called xbox music....don't get me started on how crappy it is. I don't understand why they didn't rebrand the desktop version of zune and update the ui a little and make that xbox music as Zunes software was perfect!!!

mrdeezus said,
the Zune desktop client was the best piece of software MS ever developed.

You forgot "/s" . Zune looked like ugly brick and software was utter **** by comparison with iTunes, just like WP7 - lacking features. Customers were right.

Uh no, your not even close but isheep like you never are. Im talking about the ZuneHD 32gb. Oh, have you ever used Zune software? Didn't think so because if you did and were honest you would know that Zune software is better than iTunes, not saying more popular but better.

mrdeezus said,
but isheep like you never are
Actually, I make my living from MS technology for more than 25 years now. Unfortunately, Zune was same **** like WP7. There is a reason why these products failed. Products will continue to fail as long as MS blames customers and won't listen to them. Their last grand fiasco was Win8 Pro upgrade to Win8 Pro with Media Center on-line service, they refused to deliver goods and lied to their customers till the deadline. This is not how you treat your customers

Well, the original Zune was u-g-g-l-y, for stater, and by the time Zune HD came out, which was a a very nice-looking MP3 player, it was almost too late.

Also, that brown Zune: Uh-uh.

Though the reviews were almost universally positive, however, the Zune hardware never caught on.

Should read "Though the reviews were almost universally positive, however, the Zune hardware was never sold outside of USA by Microsoft. "

It FAR surpassed the sound quality of Apple's iPod line

This is a myth when it comes to the iPod Touch 4 versus Zune HD (using the same good quality 3rd party headphone).

From what i heard Cowon has the best sound quality but i never tried their media players.

Edited by LaP, Feb 10 2013, 5:42pm :

LaP said,

Should read "Though the reviews were almost universally positive, however, the Zune hardware was never sold outside of USA by Microsoft. "

This is a myth when it comes to the iPod Touch 4 versus Zune HD (using the same good quality 3rd party headphone).

From what i heard Cowon has the best sound quality but i never tried their media players.

I disagree. I use a set of ultimate ears customs (in ear monitors which don't require very much volume to get a LOT of sound) and I can totally hear the difference between those two devices.

webdev511 said,

I disagree. I use a set of ultimate ears customs (in ear monitors which don't require very much volume to get a LOT of sound) and I can totally hear the difference between those two devices.

Being able to hear a difference doesn't mean the sound is better. A lot of people think that Monster Headphones are the best headphones. Pretty much all reviews i've read about the Logitech z2200 before buying them was highly positive. I personally think they are awful speakers outside of gaming considering the price asked.

You would need to link me a technical non subjective test where they compare the Zune HD output and the iPod Touch 4 output with the uncompressed real sound wave of a song to see which of the iPod or Zune output is closer to the real thing.

I've yet to find such a test. Everything else is highly subjective. I've seen non apple fan with good ears say the iPod Touch 4 sounds as good as the Zune HD.

Personally i highly doubt there's a big difference in quality (please note that in my reply i highlighted the word FAR surpassed). To tell a real big and easily noticeable difference in the level of quality generally you need to go high end. At the price level of the Zune and iPod (considering most of the money is spent on the screen, software and such) the sound will be different but not really better (ie not really closer to the real thing). It's like saying Skullcandy sounds better than another low end brand. It sounds different, not better.

I might be wrong and if you can provide me a link to a good technical test explaining why the Zune HD output is closer to the real thing than the iPod Touch 4 output then i'll admit i'm totally wrong.

Edited by LaP, Feb 11 2013, 3:18pm :

I actually really wanted a Zune for years in the UK. I settled for other things but if it had been released over here I'd have snapped one up!

I didn't like mine because MS never came out with an update to allow it to connect to hidden wireless networks. Now, I had mine for about a year so I don't know if MS ever released an update to fix that afterwards. But I thought that was one of the dumbest decisions at the time.

briangw said,
I didn't like mine because MS never came out with an update to allow it to connect to hidden wireless networks. Now, I had mine for about a year so I don't know if MS ever released an update to fix that afterwards. But I thought that was one of the dumbest decisions at the time.

Why do so many people use hidden wireless networks anyway? Sure it should be able to connect because its part of the standard, but do you all think you're gaining security by hiding your SSID? You aren't.

mrp04 said,

Why do so many people use hidden wireless networks anyway? Sure it should be able to connect because its part of the standard, but do you all think you're gaining security by hiding your SSID? You aren't.

So you assume that I have a hidden wireless network? Dude, my college had one, the city-provided wifi service had one, my work had one. Wireless networks come in all shapes and sizes. MS knows this and they failed on day one with this product. But hey, don't take my word for it. If you read the support forums, you'd find a lot of people were bitching about it.

briangw said,

So you assume that I have a hidden wireless network? Dude, my college had one, the city-provided wifi service had one, my work had one. Wireless networks come in all shapes and sizes. MS knows this and they failed on day one with this product. But hey, don't take my word for it. If you read the support forums, you'd find a lot of people were bitching about it.

So even though you have an argument, the first people you should be taking up your grievances would be your School, City, etc.

Why would they make things harder for consumers to use with NO security or other benefit?

A lot of consumer devices DO NOT allow connection to hidden SSIDs, and your School/City are discriminating against every one of these devices, not just the freaking Zune.

PS The Zune was the first media player to even offer WiFi, and was initially for Syncing music content and sharing music content and later for games to use for local peer connectivity. It wasn't until the ZuneHD timeframe that the iPod was taking on the iPhone role without a phone, and it still took several years for iPod/iPhone to get wireless syncing.

thenetavenger said,

So even though you have an argument, the first people you should be taking up your grievances would be your School, City, etc.

Why would they make things harder for consumers to use with NO security or other benefit?

A lot of consumer devices DO NOT allow connection to hidden SSIDs, and your School/City are discriminating against every one of these devices, not just the freaking Zune.

PS The Zune was the first media player to even offer WiFi, and was initially for Syncing music content and sharing music content and later for games to use for local peer connectivity. It wasn't until the ZuneHD timeframe that the iPod was taking on the iPhone role without a phone, and it still took several years for iPod/iPhone to get wireless syncing.

Heh, you make it sound so easy. Unfortunately, in the real world, filing grievances doesn't work that way when you might be less of the 1 percent complaining. But hey, it's all good. MS f'd up, didn't provide the support, and someone else got my Zune HD and were probably happy with it and that limitation.

Congrats that a lot of consumer devices DO NOT work with hidden SSIDs. Everything I owned but the Zune HD did. Not sure where you're going with that, but it doesn't apply here with my complaint.

Btw, like I mentioned above, I could care less about what WiFi came first. The first WiFi browsing ability came with the iPod Touch, not with the Zune and that's something I wanted.

briangw said,

Heh, you make it sound so easy. Unfortunately, in the real world, filing grievances doesn't work that way when you might be less of the 1 percent complaining. But hey, it's all good. MS f'd up, didn't provide the support, and someone else got my Zune HD and were probably happy with it and that limitation.

Congrats that a lot of consumer devices DO NOT work with hidden SSIDs. Everything I owned but the Zune HD did. Not sure where you're going with that, but it doesn't apply here with my complaint.

Btw, like I mentioned above, I could care less about what WiFi came first. The first WiFi browsing ability came with the iPod Touch, not with the Zune and that's something I wanted.


MS didn't f up, the instances that provided hidden Wi-Fi did.

Sorry, I don't buy that at all. If Apple, Laptops, Desktops, and other WiFi products at the time supported it, why couldn't they? Again, if you all read the comments at the time, there were quite a number of people who weren't happy.

Like others, I'd chalk it up to MS's fumble in release it in other countries. A few days before they made the announcement to officially kill it, I finally decided to get a Zune HD online (I've never seen one here in Canada)--their site never managed to complete the transaction because of errors.

I still use my 8GB Zune daily (not an exaggeration) to listen to podcasts. I love the fact that I can just subscribe to an RSS feed, and have new stuff automaticaly added to it, and stuff I've listedn to automatically deleted. That's all I need from an MP3 player--it beats the crap out of the $20 players (I've had a few). Don't know what I'm gonna do when it dies. I refuse to get an iAnything.

I'd have loved to have been able to buy one. If it was ever released outside of North America it might have fares better. I wish MS wouldn't prioritise that area so much, especially when it negatively affects the rest.

Before anyone complains I'm aware they're an American company but surely they're a worldwide brand

The giant, ugly, brown brick version pretty much killed the perception out of the gate. Apple made portable music for easy to carry.

I had a Zune HD briefly and it was cool to use but by then, the market was decidedly Apple's and now standalone PMPs are almost obsolete.

No one hated the brand! It was the sheet screw up of marketing and selling beyond the Americas which killed it and set it as an example on how not to kill brands.

I am surprised that it is mocked at all. It didn't seem to have a big enough effect to even get in the media. In the UK we only see it as a marketing / distribution issue. Unis love it as a case study too.

I heard some references on some older shows but all in kind manner.

The design and usability* of the Zune HD (which I still own) was great. The overall consumer experience, however, was lacking compared to the competition. The iPod Touch made it possible to not only listen to music but to also play games and run apps. iTunes also offered a lot more compared to Microsoft's Marketplace. And when it comes to the Marketplace, I've had more trouble with it than I've had with iTunes (which isn't without faults itself). I think Microsoft could've been more aggressive in their promotion of the Zune and opened up more possibilities for the device so that it could compete with something like the iPod Touch. But, alas, it's gone and the only option consumers have between what Apple offers and what Microsoft offers is 1.) an iPod Touch or 2.) a Windows Phone. I highly doubt parents are going to get a Windows Phone for their children when they can just get them an iPod Touch. Very sore move on Microsoft's end. They have no competitor in that area of the consumer market.

*Usability - I really dislike capacitive buttons on my MP3 devices. I much prefer to feel around for physical buttons to interact with my media versus having to look at my screen every time.

Zune HD was superb, such great quality and design.

Desktop software is great, even now. Probably one of the best working and designed apps MS has ever made.

Xbox Music is embarrassing. Version 1 but no excuse for being that bad. Instant dislike to ever spending time and money on it whereas with Zune I paid for a sub happily. Behind the scenes, much the same but the front of Xbox Music is awful.

I feel sorry for the talented engineers who make the great stuff at MS and get crapped on. What a waste.

I really wish they would have just releases an updated version of Zune software with the Xbox branding and let it sync with WP8. This is the only feature I miss from WP7. I don't think you'd be hearing all the negativity towards Xbox Music apps if they had continued developing the Zune software under the Xbox name.

WooHoo!!! said,

Desktop software is great, even now. Probably one of the best working and designed apps MS has ever made.

It's my favorite mp'3 player, even on Windows 8.

I've owned each Zune iteration except for the smaller 4/8GB models. Each generation got better (who remembers the touchpad 'squircle' on the 2nd gen!) and by the time the HD came around, Zune was knocking on death's door, sadly.

Microsoft came late into the market with a iPod lookalike (as the article said) which is why I think the brand was so poorly received. The advertising was never up to par (I believe if they had advertised Zune like they currently advertise Surface, things would be much different) and the lack of international availability killed the Zune.

Technically, the Zune (2nd gen/HD, IMO) were top-notch. Build-quality was excellent, the Metro UI was starting to mature a bit and the sound quality (still) is killer. Unfortunately, public perception is what drove the brand to be hated... by people who never used one.

As an aside, I see a similar thing happening on a smaller scale with Windows Phone (as a phone company rep) but it seems to be slowly changing for the better.

Yeah, I loved my Zune 80GB. Miss having it. Such a solid MP3 and Video player.

The 1st gen Zune 30GB was a bit of a fatty though , lol. They definitely nailed the form factor on the 80GB and forward.

MS had their opportunity to have me as a loyal Windows Phone customer if they wouldn't have dragged their feet so much on releasing WP7. They announced a Phone device shortly after the Zune HD and then it was like...silence...forever. I had jumped ship for an iPhone 3GS when I was really wanting to wait for an elusive "Zune Phone".

The Zune was a far superior MP3 player than anything ever released. At least it evolved into the current Windows Phone.

I wouldn't say "far superior." I don't think of anything being far superior when it lacks the ability to connect to hidden wireless networks unlike other devices.

He said "far superior mp3 player". I don't buy MP3 players for their ability to connect to wifi networks. I buy them for their ability to play MP3s. Zune HD was a much more focused MP3 player while iPod Touch was trying to be iPhone without a phone.

you can't include the words "far superior MP3 product" without considering multi-faceted MP3 products. Since Zune had wifi, a browser, and apps, it's not just a "MP3 player." MS just failed on the first iteration and their forums agreed.

I liked my Zune HD except for this one thing and for that reason, I went back to an iPod Touch.

briangw said,
I wouldn't say "far superior." I don't think of anything being far superior when it lacks the ability to connect to hidden wireless networks unlike other devices.

You are complaining about a feature that at the time Zune was released, NO OTHER PRODUCT even had WiFi connectivity. Zune had WiFi years before the iPod or the iPhone existed.

So ya, it didn't have the ability to initially connected to hidden networks, but considering the iPod could NOT CONNECT TO ANY NETWORKS, this is kind of a stupid point.

PS as for Superior. THIS is one feature making it superior. Having WiFI sharing and Sync features MANY years before the iPhone finally got it a couple of years ago. Oh, and as the hardware progressed, the initial 'touch' version of the Zune was the first mainstream consumer device to ship with Gorilla Glass - bringing attention to this technology.

OK, you might have had the first wireless, but that was for sharing; not browsing. iPod Touch had that before the Zune ever did. Check your facts on that.

MacD@ddy said,
The Zune was a far superior MP3 player than anything ever released. At least it evolved into the current Windows Phone.

I imported a ZuneHD to Aus from the US and while it's a great device and certainly (IMO) better than the equivalent iPods etc, if I could choose again I'd have picked a Sansa Clip+ or Cowon player for the flac support and decent equalizers.

Still, love the ZuneHD hardware and interface, the Zune player is very nice and the Zune pass service was a brilliant idea. Pity it didn't take off or get any credit

I know TechTV/ZDTV back then did a lot of bad mouthing about the Zune. Of course, those guys were walking around at the same time with their iPods that they felt needed special protection "iPod socks"

My friends and I all liked and had Zunes as well as iPods. We always thought that the service and software were superb. I don't know why Microsoft killed the brand . I wish they hadn't.

Could not be more disappointed with Xbox Music on both desktop and phone. Especially with a data plan.

It's so hard to not stream songs in your "collection"

Whatever you do, don't try syncing Zune Pass WMAs with your WP8 device... You'll just get duplicates that the app can't work out the DRM licenses on.

So much pain, it was perfect as is

All considered, the dream was nice. Fix my cloud music pls.


This is the wrong forum for this but can I also have finer controller over what gets to use what connection and when on my phone. And more Delete commands in touch-and-hold context menus - deleting songs one at a time. WHAT

Have to agree with everything you wrote, the mixing of streams with downloads is very annoying when your are suddenly out of range of wifi and the phone network.

The DRM XBOX Video is so stupid that if you download a movie and try and play it later without a connection it will refuse to play, this even after you've already purchased it.

The DRM also seems to be regional, so that if you _buy_ a movie one country and try and play it in another it wont even play.

Totally agree...and it is taking too long to fix. I am with you on the cloud collection. We need more control over it. I sometimes can't download music to my phone because it says it is already in my collection.

Tom Chapman said,
Could not be more disappointed with Xbox Music on both desktop and phone. Especially with a data plan.

It's so hard to not stream songs in your "collection"

Whatever you do, don't try syncing Zune Pass WMAs with your WP8 device... You'll just get duplicates that the app can't work out the DRM licenses on.

So much pain, it was perfect as is

All considered, the dream was nice. Fix my cloud music pls.


This is the wrong forum for this but can I also have finer controller over what gets to use what connection and when on my phone. And more Delete commands in touch-and-hold context menus - deleting songs one at a time. WHAT

This is the POINT. The current Xbox Music App on Windows 8 and the Xbox Music App on WP8 are HORRIBLE. Right now it is better to have a WP 7.8 device that uses the Zune store, which maintains a separate DRM license.

Getting a FIXED WP8 and Windows 8 Xbox Music and Video App is important right now, as they are barely functional and do not support the basic features Microsoft was talking about at Windows 8 launch.

Microsoft gave the Xbox Music and Video App to the Xbox team that made the Xbox version of the App. A HORRIBLE MISTAKE, as the Xbox Apps versions are barely more than streaming clients, which is exactly what you are hating and seeing in the Windows 8 and WP8 versions.

There is supposed to be a complete rewrite happening of these client Apps. However, it needs to happen faster.

It is really sad considering this is what we got from the company that gave people Media Center, Media Player, and Zune's Software, all three which most people find to have really good qualities that they are still be duplicated in 3rd party software today.

I think that the line, "“Ew, I don't like Zunes,” one friend even told me, despite having never used one. A similar response came from a laughing co-worker." pretty much shows why.

Dashel said,
People whose first experience with digital music came from the iTunes store...

Not sure about where you live, but around here the average joe was wel aware how he could get his favorite pirated album well before iTunes

People hated the Zune? I thought it just didn't sell well due to marketing and internationalization, not any technical flaw.

billyea said,
People hated the Zune? I thought it just didn't sell well due to marketing and internationalization, not any technical flaw.

Apparently. Otherwise you wouldn't see the disparaging jokes about it on the Simpsons, SNL, and Tosh.0.

Only releasing it in certain countries didn't help, people probably hate the Zune because they were never allowed to buy it!

This was probably one of the biggest reasons. I still have my Zune HD, and use it fairly often. It is an extremely smooth platform, and highly underrated compared to iPod Touch.

Too true, in the UK we were never able to hate it as it was never released here!

I actually always thought these were nicer than iPods.

I agree with you all. The main reason is that almost everyone on the planet, 6+ billion people, couldn't actually buy one, apart from a very small percentage of people that lived in some place called the US. This just annoyed people because many were actually interested in the Zune.

kravex said,
Only releasing it in certain countries didn't help, people probably hate the Zune because they were never allowed to buy it!

You do know that it was subscription licensing issues that prevent Microsoft from selling it in more locations. i.e. YOUR country prevented it being sold, or media companies would NOT approve licensing music usage in your region/country.

This is one of the 'duh', Microsoft would have liked to have sold it everywhere and fought to get it into what markets it did.

Remember that Zune used a dual 'licensing' model, both purchased content and DRM based monthly subscription content.

The way Microsoft has gotten around this is in many places is a broader licensing deal and NOT charging users for the subscription in Windows 8 and WP8 that use the newer Xbox Music branding.

The licencing was all because of American licence holders, you think the New Zealand Govt was all like na, gtfo? You think all of Europe said we don't want it? Of course the didn't!

American lables said we won't permit you to sell a device that can play music outside of the USA, the states shafted the rest of the world with their DRM and copyrights. Yes there were some other lables involved but 90%+ of the opposition came from the states itself.

Zune was held back from the rest of the world some money hungry ****** in corporate offices said we don't care about the other 6b people.

Edited by Eric, Feb 10 2013, 9:31pm :

You hit the nail right on the head! I would have bought one if i could of but i couldn't so i bought an ipod touch 1st gen. Now i just use my phone as my mp3 player instead using the winamp app.

ask Microsoft - they didn't think it was good enough to release anywhere except the USA.

Who would buy a "brown" device anyway, and WTF was that ridiculous "social" rubbish, and the limiting DRM.

What ever happened to that other stupid "plays for sure" thing Microsoft was pushing as well.

I bought my Zune 80 on a business trip to the U.S. before it was available in Canada. It's still going strong after five years of daily use. I love the UI, always have, and Microsoft's software upgrade policy on the Zune (all devices get updated) were a couple of reasons I got a Windows Phone instead of an Android or iPhone.