I was really looking forward to the Zunesoftware update. Instead of getting a bevy of well integrated new features, I got a list of gripes.
1) Can’t install the software.
After the Zune 1.3 software found and downloaded the update, I launched it and the progress bar goes to 100% only to be greeted by this:
Setup must stop because the required package ‘Zune’ failed to install.
DIFXAPP: Rollback failed with error 0×2
The progress bar literally went backwards from 100% while the Windows Installer service rolled back the changes. It took more than an hour and a half of messing with stuff and perusing the Zune forums before someone realized that you have to have the Windows Firewall service turned on for installation to complete. That makes no sense whatsoever, but after enabling the service, I managed to finish the software installation.
2) Folder watching is broken, at least for podcasts.
No Loveline for you! The fact that the new software has an integrated podcast client is great. However, I often listen to stuff which doesn’t have an associated RSS feed like shows from the Loveline Archive. One would think this wouldn’t be a big deal, just add the folder that the files are stored in to the podcast watch list and they should show up right? Wrong; no matter what I do, manual podcasts refuse to show up.
Update: I’m an idiot; in order to make an unmanaged mp3 file show up as a podcast, you set its genre to podcast. Though you can’t change the genre in the Zune software because it lacks tag editing (That would make waaay too much sense). And no matter what you do, you can’t set album art for podcasts without it being in the xml feed, even if the mp3 itself has an image embedded in it.
3) Nearly useless media center support.
One of the features I most looked forward to was support and automatic conversion of dvr-ms files recorded from media center machines. I was hoping to just point the Zune software to the recorded tv folder on the media center and they would get added to videos. What Microsoft failed to tell us was that the Zune software does not support Dolby Digital audio. Now you might think this isn’t a big deal, but the vast majority of my recordings come from high definition channels, and all high definition broadcasts use Dolby Digtal audio (surprise!). I have no idea what Microsoft was thinking, the type of person that goes through the expense of buying (or in my case building) a media center PC is the type of person who will have high def content. You can’t even say its a codec licensing issue, since half the versions of Vista have media center (and thus a Dolby Digital decoder) BUILT-IN. I don’t expect the Zune itself to support AC3/DD audio, but it would be trivial for MS to have the software convert it to stereo.
Ratings 4) Reduced granularity rating system.
I wasn’t a huge user of star ratings in media player or the old software, but the system in the new version is far less flexible. Rather than offering 5 stars, you have 3 levels: empty, broken or full heart.
5) Drag and drop.
There is no drag and drop from outside apps in anything other than the music browse view.
6) Poor metadata editing
You can’t batch edit metadata, and you cant edit any info other than artist or title.
All that being said, some of the new features are nice:
Wifi sync settings
1) Wifi sync.
I’m not sure if this is actually useful as of yet, but it does work flawlessly if slowly
Go to artist feature
2) Show artist feature.
This a minor thing, but its a feature that I really wanted. When playing a track, you can hit the menu button and you get the option to see other tracks from that artist.
3) Finally, built in podcast support.
For people who use mp3 players primarily for podcasts, this update is great. No more “watched folders” + seperate app required.
This entire update is a disaster, things that worked well before are now crippled, newly implemented features aren’t really integrated or complete, and the software prevents you from manually fixing things when they go awry. I hated the old Zune software about as much as I hated iTunes, but this is a new level of crappiness. While the Zune device itself is excellent, Microsoft has blown any opportunity to be taken seriously in the mp3 player market with such a half baked mess of desktop software that clearly never saw a single round of quality assurance testing.