Why does MS not allow 3rd party sofware for the Zune?

I’m not sure where to put this, but speculation and opinions are welcome so here it is.

I’ve got an 8gb zune. I HATE the software, and there is, apparently, no way around using it. This is enough of a problem for me that, in the future, when I buy a device with more storage, I’m not going to get a Zune.

I don’t get how this strategy makes MS money. If someone doesn’t like the software and prefers to use something else, why force the issue? It has to loose them sales beyond mine. What is the thinking, here?

By software I assume you mean the version on your PC, not the device’s OS. The iPod and the Zune both do this. Most other MP3 players probably do as well.

The reason they all do this is three-fold:

  1. they are chaining to to a life of iPod/Zune purchasing by making you married to the software’s nuances.
  2. they want to provide a product that does far more than play music and to manage all the games, photos, videos and various bells and whistles they need their software to maintain the device’s updates and internal databases.
  3. the software is how they manage and provide their marketplaces and protected content.

The first one sucks, but it’s typical of just about every electronics device out there. It not in any of these companies best interest to allow it’s users to transition to another brand without some hassle. The second one is a very valid reason, there’s no standardized way to handle all the tagging and cover art or the rankings and play counts. If they let you use “Johnny’s Media Library” to manage your music on their device and Johnny did a crappy job of it or the data wasn’t properly sent to the device you’ll probably end up blaming the device. This protects them, and it also allows them to keep their devices up to date which should leave fewer non-tech people pissed because their device is failing due to some old firmware. Just think if you never ran Windows Update on your PC. The third one is the big one and it’s where their money is. They sell these things at a small profit, and maybe even a loss, because they are hoping you’ll end up buying music from them. This is how Xboxes can be affordable, they make their money on the games. Apple makes their money on the iTunes purchases and the cell phone data plans.

FTR, the Zune software absolutely kills iTunes, but that’s not saying much. Both the Zune and the iPod/iTouch are great devices but neither’s software is worth a damn. It’s pretty frustrating, but there’s nothing much you can do. If you ditch the Zune you’ll simply end up with a iPod and in the same situation or with a Sansa and no integrated music store.

Thanks for the reply.

I agree i-tunes sucks. But with the i-pod, you have a lot of other options. You can sync an i-pod with media monkey, for instance, or sharepod. But MS seems to have gone above and beyond in making this sort of thing impossible for the Zune. Is this just because not enough people have a zune who are actively working on ways around this crap? I really don’t want to buy in to the i-franchise (mostly because I’m just contrary), but I don’t want to use the Zune software, either.

I think MS is kind of shooting itself in the foot, here, since i-tunes is easy to get around, and their software is nearly impossible. But I do see your points.

Do they? All of the non-Microsoft/Apple ones I’ve owned–such as the amazing Sansa Clip–had no required software and merely used Drag & Drop, which is awesome.

Media Monkey used to sync with the Zune before the 3.0 update. Every time iTunes gets a new update Media Monkey has to fix it’s stuff to work with it. Even if you use Media Monkey for music with the iPod you still need to use iTunes for firmware updates, games, contacts and whatever else Apple is adding to it.

It’s not that iTunes or Zune is easier or harder, it’s just that programs like MM have to make it work with iPods or they have no business. It reflects nothing about Apple or MS, it just reflects the market share and the priorities of the 3rd party software developers.

Incidentally, I’m curious what about the Zune software is so bothersome. I think it’s light years better at recognizing tracks and adding art work and tag info than iTunes, Winamp, Media Monkey or anything else I’ve tried. That is a real strong point. The Zune Marketplace subscription service with it’s unlimited downloads and 10 tracks per month you get to keep forever is the best thing out there bar none.

The interface is simple, I’d say to a fault, but it’s pretty and fast compared to iTunes. My biggest beef with it is the utterly stupid choice to do away with the 5-point rating system. Now that they have full featured auto-playlists I’m not minding using it too much. It’s worth it for how awesome the Zune device is.

ETA: One other peeve. I can’t seem to figure out how to make Zune automatically add tracks to my folder hierarchy and it’s catalog when I play them. Annoying, but I work around that.

My gripe about the Zune is that it doesn’t support several common formats, notably AVI.

My RCA MP3 players, which while not anything I’d really recommend, came with software, but since they also allow drag and drop, I’ve never used the software to transfer songs either.

I’m not aware of a single device that does.

AVI is a container format, not a compression codec. Data in an AVI file can be compressed with one of many different codecs. With a full OS, it’s easier to track down and download an appropriate driver to get the AVI to be viewable. On a device, it’s a lot more difficult, particularly since there are so many more different devices than there are operating systems.

Huh. OK, that actually makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

I’d just really rather drag and drop. Call me old-fashioned. My zune isn’t big enough to fit all my music, and drag-and-drop would be faster than dealing with Zune’s organization. I spent several hours yesterday getting it worked out, and I guess it isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I find it oddly counter intuitive. I dunno, I just don’t like it. And I have no interest in a subscription service, so that doesn’t do anything for me.

But can you still drag and drop with the Zune or were you just trying to get used to the software?

No, that’s the thing. You can’t drag and drop–nothing can be done at all without the software. You can’t even delete songs from the device w/o the software. Annoying.

You can drag and drop. It’s just done in the context of the software view as opposed to the Windows Explorer folder view. You can select a view/sort in the software that reflects any type of grouping, by artist, by genre, by song title, by year, etc. It would mimic just about any folder hierarchy you might use. This isn’t any different than any other program, even Media Monkey does it that way. It just depends if the device you are using allows it to act as a mass storage device or not. With all the new software features these devices include these days that’s just not practical because drag and drop at the Windows Explorer level would allow you to corrupt the necessary files.

Damn. So if I visited a friend and wanted to swap some songs with them, I would have to bring along the software and install it on their computer to do that?

I’m glad I saw this thread, I was just on the verge of buying a Zune (I’m looking for a large capacity player), but this makes me think I should seriously reconsider.

Part of it may be due to file sharing. It’s easy enough to find free programs to convert AVIs which are the commonest form of file sharing for movies.

But a lot of people are too lazy to find the software, or as one person said, there is no incentive to make a third party work around.

I use iTunes and just drag and drop. I never use the synch. It works better than MediaMonkey for me. I found MM to be bloated. But it’s really a matter of what you like

Correct. And the software is pretty huge–it took me a couple of hours to download and install it. I do think that the Zune is nice hardware, and better looking than the i-pod, but having to do everything via the software really bugs me. If I was going to do it again, I’d get an i-pod (or something else).

Um, you do realize that you have to do everything for the iPod via software too. I’m guessing most other full-featured MP3 players are the same. And in terms of bloated software, Zune is a small fraction of iTunes.