Today, Zune 4.0 hits. Zune 4.0 comes with awesome new devices (the Zune HD), new software, and new online services. For the complete announcement for today’s release, see this press release [Link coming soon] or see this post by my Zune pal Brian Seitz over on Zune Insider.
There’s been a lot of talk about the amazing Zune HD. Having the honor of using one for the last few weeks, I can say it truly is one great device. However, I want to talk about what’s in new Zune software update. The Zune Team has put a lot of work into the software update – including optimizing it for Windows 7! More on that in a bit…
The Zune 4.0 Software Update brings in several key new features designed to make discovering new music and playing music in your collection even better.
Quickplay is a new screen in the Zune software that gives you quick access to your content.
Here, you can pin your favorite content (up to 6 items), see new music and videos added to your collection, and view your history of recently played music, podcasts, and videos. Quickplay also showcases 5 Smart DJ mixes of your favorite artists or bands you pick.
Speaking of Smart DJ…
A Smart DJ “mix” automatically creates a playlist of music from your collection – but goes the extra mile by ALSO mixing in music from Zune Marketplace. These Smart DJ mixes are available by right-clicking on an artist, a song, or an album in your collection. When a Smart DJ mix is created, it pulls in music from your own collection and also the Zune Marketplace. If you have a Zune Pass, all songs including those from Zune Marketplace will play for you. If you don’t have a Zune Pass, “suggested” songs in the Smart DJ mix will be grayed-out.
If you prefer not to see “suggested” music from Zune Marketplace in your Smart DJ mixes, you can unselect a radio button and only your personal collection will be listed.
You can also choose to save the Smart DJ queue as a playlist, with finite control in the “edit playlist” setting, for listening at a later date.
The below screenshot of the Smart DJ mix for Weezer playing shows what playing a Smart DJ mix looks like with the options to save as a playlist and the ability to choose not to play songs from the Zune Marketplace.
But wait, there’s more!
The Zune software now comes with Mini Player Mode. This allows you to keep the player always on top of other applications while browsing the Web, checking email, or whatever else you might be doing on your PC.
And if Mini Player Mode doesn’t do it for you, you can also add playback controls to the Windows Taskbar (right-click on taskbar, choose Toolbars, and then choose Zune).
As I mentioned above, the new Zune software is optimized for Windows 7. That means it takes advantage of key Windows 7 features!
Using Jump Lists in Windows 7, you can access albums you’ve “pinned” under Quickplay as well as your preconfigured Smart DJ mixes of 5 of your favorite artists or bands. It also lets you shuffle all music and resume playing music if on pause.
With Taskbar Previews (just hover your mouse over the Zune button on the Windows Taskbar in Windows 7), you can move to the next song, go back to the previous song, and pause your music and rate songs!
And with Aero Snap, you can resize the Zune software to the top or bottom, left or right of your screen.
Zune now also features for the first time download-to-own, or rent full movies in combination of their growing TV show library. These movies and TV shows can be downloaded in standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD). A remember, Zune Pass is only $14.99 and now comes with unlimited access to streaming music online! Oh and you also get 10 MP3 song credits a month to redeem too.
Give the new Zune software a try for free by clicking here.
Disclaimer: My music tastes do not represent that of Microsoft