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 ;-)
Please help. I just installed the Zune software on my Windows 7 x64 computer and now I've lost all Aero effects and have even updated my ATI graphics device drivers to no avail! What's the deal?? I like the new Zune 4.3 software but I can't seem to get the Windows 7 Aero effects to come back. Any suggestions?
Been using iPod for so long and when Zune HD arrived I decided to give Zune a second chance. Its still so far behind the 3rd Generation of the iPod Touch. But I do have a new $290 paper weight. The opening menu will turn you off. Glad I bought both of the new releases together.
"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."
If you can unselect a radio button, you're coding it wrong. Maybe you meant a check box?
I just found it even 4.0 doesn't even support .MPG container! Blasphemous! Why are you leaving all transcoding to the end user? This is such a horrible user experience. It should have been natively supported on the device itself but not even transcoding it is criminal.
Seriously, when are Canadians going to be allowed to join the social?
I would happily shell over $15/month for a Zune Pass to a music subscription with proper client software. Napster.ca has been trying to do this for a while now, but the player software pales in comparison to iTunes or Zune.
No App store for launch = fail
No international launch = fail
Zune software's looking great. Although I still find navigating easier in WMP 12.
A note to other readers, the Zune 4 software is PC software and can be downloaded and installed no matter what country you live in.
It is a great replacement to the old & confused WMP you get in Windows 7.
The only thing missing is support for Win7 libraries. I have several Music folders scattered around my hard disk and they are all arranged in a convenient library. However, the Zune software doesn't let you select the library, rather every sub-folder within it individually. It also uses "My Music" as the default music store, regardless to what you have set in the Library settings.
+1 for Zune hardware internationally (I'll help beta test in the UK :-) )
+1 for better codec support (DivX please)
In any event it would be nice if additional codec support was available even if sold at a price in the Zune app store when it becomes available. We all know the licensing to playback certain formats costs money, but being able to buy a codec and increase the usefullness of a device would be a great idea.
I know that is one of the things that drive me insane about the ipod touch, that it only supports a extremely limited number of video formats. A device isnt truely convenient unless it supports a number of formats.
The Zune Pass sounds like extremely good value for music lovers.
What file formats can the ZuneHD play?
I second someone's request. Just Bing for "Zune HD" DivX Xvid (www.bing.com/search) and the Zune team will see that is the No.1 request. DivX is the most popular codec and even Windows 7 supports it now. Please support it natively without trancoding.
Big disappointment is lack of DivX/Xvid/MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile, AC3 and FLAC. I can do without FLAC support because WMA Lossless is quite decent but most rips are DivX/Xvid and very few are H.264. And it needs to support .MPEG/.MPG and .AVI container formats (only for DivX/Xvid+MP3/AAC again) as well. Too bad MS you didn't get it this last time too. I'm happy with my Cowon A3. It doesn't become an HD player to if it doesn't support the formats in which most HD content on the internet is. Microsoft please please natively support DivX/Xvid/MP3/AC3 on the device (in a firmware update) and you'll leapfrog the iPod's marketshare. Xbox 360 got it too eventually, the Zune needs DivX/Xvid support.
Is there a new firmware release along with the software? What does it bring for older players? Also, what about support for playing, transcoding and streaming more media formats? That is my No.1 wish. Time stretching and pitch shifting? Subtitles and chapter? Why not a rich plugin/extensible model like WMP for media formats, transcoding and DSP? Is the Zune team keeping watch here: forums.zune.net/.../ShowForum.aspx Please please support more formats for playback, transcoding to the device and streaming.
If Microsoft were serious about taking on the iPod Touch they would not have restricted the Zune to US only.
I was delaying but now am going to get the 64Gb iPod Touch, Microsft have missed the boat on this and I won't be a passenger on it if they ever realise it in the UK.
pretty much irrelevant for anyone outside the USA.