Zune Firmware

Updates and news on the Zune firmware versions. Find news about the Zune firmware updates for your new Zune player.

Zune 4.5 firmware coming zune

 Zune Firmware  No Responses »
Mar 302010
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Microsoft details Zune 4.5, still mute on 64GB Zune HD

Microsoft is planning to release the free Zune 4.5 firmware update sometime in the next few weeks. The company confirmed four new features the update will include: Smart DJ on Zune HD, Picks on Zune HD, music browsing and streaming from Zune Marketplace on your TV, and expanded video codec support.

The Zune software currently has two music recommendation features: Picks and Smart DJ (added last fall). As expected, both are coming to the Zune HD device as well. Users will be able to choose a song or artist from their collection or from the Zune Marketplace catalog and then hit the Smart DJ icon to build a new mix based on their selection. If you have a Zune Pass subscription, music will be pulled from the Zune Marketplace catalog as well as your collection. For Picks, the algorithm analyzes what you listen to and compares that to millions of other Zune users to make personalized recommendations. These automatic recommendations will available directly on the Zune HD device as well as the Zune software.

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MediaPost.com – Microsoft Extending Marketing To Concerts, Social Events

Mar 092007
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MediaPost Publications – Microsoft Extending Marketing To Concerts, Social Events – 03/09/2007

MICROSOFT’S ZUNE HARD DRIVE DIGITAL music player has retained its No. 2 market share position in the post-holiday sales period, according to research firm NPD Group, with a 9.9% share.

Maintaining this toehold in the market hasn’t been a steady course. Zune has suffered considerable backlash from dissatisfied consumers reporting technological glitches such as cracked LCD screens, apparently the result of battery pressure as well as direct impact. Some tech bloggers have reported sending their Zunes back to Microsoft for repairs only to have the screens crack again within weeks.

But that problem pales in scale to the “skipping” issue reported in playback of songs downloaded from the Zune Marketplace that has become so widespread that Microsoft will release yet another update to address it in mid-March–Zune Firmware Update 1.3. Apparently, the previous one didn’t do the trick. Despite the playback issue, Microsoft reported that the active subscriber base of Zune Marketplace grew by 60% in January, and individual track downloads are up by 65%.

Yet none of these issues is earth-shattering, especially not for a first-generation product. Microsoft certainly isn’t daunted, saying that it’s committed to expanding the Zune offering and is sticking to its predictions of selling 1 million devices by June.

Rumor has it the next-generation Zune will appear in August, but in the meantime, Microsoft is showing its commitment to Zune by expanding on its $100 million marketing efforts via concerts and social events. Messages are based on the idea of “the social,” which highlights the social networking capability enabled by Zune’s wireless technology.

The big focus is on discovering new music and the support of emerging artists, from the promotion of critically acclaimed acts at small clubs to a high-profile presence at music industry events like SXSW, which starts today in Austin, Texas.

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Mar 072007
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There is an interesting Zune rumor just getting started and although we don’t normally jump on rumors so fast this one is to good to pass. Seems Gizmodo heard a rumor (that we are helping to spread) that the second generation Zune player will be a Zune gaming device and I’m ever hopeful it turns out to be true. I’ll go ahead and contribute to the web echo because I believe this one may play out. A gaming device is just what Zune needs to put them on the front of the portable market with a music video and gaming device on the platform and the phone on the way. The Xbox community is the largest asset Microsoft has in building the Zune family of devices and a gaming device is just what Zune needs to create that crossover into the Live service and the  existing community. A Microsoft game player will certainly be accepted by the fan base even if it’s not labeled under the Xbox family won’t it?

Rumor Overheard at GDC: Next-Gen Zune Available in August – Gizmodo

Apparently, if the person was correct and our ears didn’t fail us, the next-gen Zune will be available in August. Unfortunately for the first-gen Zune team, the next version will feature gaming, which is supposedly making them feel dejected over working on a product (1st gen) that will be “abandoned”.

It might be a rumor but just like Giz says it’s a juicy one because it has apparently earned this response from the Zune Release Manager who says that they will not be abandoning the first generation devices which is of course a good thing and easy to believe. I can’t think they would drop a new player on us this soon and not continue development or support for the first generation players. They have barely tapped the potential of this first player and there is much more to be done with it. Besides the list of features so many Zune users want there are issues with stability on some devices that must be dealt with fast. They can’t expect to attract new business when the first customers are having problems. It would also be suicide for the product line if they did abandon the first Zunes as no one would stick with them and Microsoft would have a hard time convincing new customers they would not do the same thing to them on future Zune players. He does not deny any second generation devices in the works or even mention them really. He goes on to say we can expect much more to come from the wireless capabilities in first generation players which is good to hear from the someone who should know.

Zune Insider : . . . And Now a Word from the Zune Release Manager

Some of the comments I read said things like “Microsoft is abandoning this generation of Zune,” but nothing could be further from the truth. We see Zune today as simply the baseline – not the endgame. That means we’re still planning on adding features to the existing platform just like MS has done with the XBOX platform (recall that Xbox Live was not part of the initial v1 launch but was added later), plus the fact that Zune has wireless which can make the potential very interesting. Stay tuned to Cesar’s blog for more on this as it develops.

I have noticed a bit of traffic building up for keywords such as “zune games” and zune game player which we apparently rank #1 for on Google. I think most of those searching for zune games are looking for games to play on the existing players. The number of searches for game player is nowhere near that of games alone but both are growing quicly. There’s been quite a bit of traffic for it and our page needs some updating but it’s nice to know so many people are looking for a Zune game player cause we’re ready for it. The rumor claims the Zune game player release date is in August which lines it up for this Holiday Season coming and that would probably put a Zune Phone out in time for Holidays 2008.

So what do you think a Zune game player should be? What do you think it will be? Honestly ever since I though about a portable Xbox game player or what was dubbed the Xboy I saw it as a slightly larger version of the Original Xbox controller with a fold up screen top and center. I had the green Halo version of the first Xbox and for some reason I see the player as that. I guess it’s because it’s an obvious fit to existing players as well and using the same design as the existing Xbox controllers will make the game player more acceptable to Xboxers. Drop me a comment and tell me what you would like to see in the Zune game player or drop by the forums and leave your opinion.

Will they still be adding games to the existing players? I think so. They need Zune to be a better value than the iPod and the continued development and a steady release of enhanced features for first generation players will create a greater interest in Zune players and boost sales. The more players sold the more possible subscribers to the Zune Pass and the subscription service is what they want us all using. The Zune Pass is great but being stuck with a subscription does feel like you’re wasting money when you’re not using your player all the time. I’ve found myself leaving my Zune off for a few days and even up to a week recently as I’ve been busy with other things and when I pick it back up and have to sync it because the subscriptions expired I wonder if it’s such a great deal. Then of course I cruise through my library of music and create a new playlist with some fresh new music on the next sync and the convenience of the a la carte menu and unlimited downloads reminds me of why I pay $15 a month for music now.

Zune MarketPlace is nice and I’m hoping they will continue to build on it. I’m looking forward to movie downloads at some point in the future. The Zune marketplace has some great features and the search functions are pretty handy. The live search is really cool and pretty fast although the site seems bogged down on occasion. It’s usually much smoother and the Zune software is better than the iTunes software in my opinion but Apple does have the podcast directory full of free content which seems so huge. Podcasting is huge and ready to explode as more people get online and the convenience of personal broadcasts reached more people. I doubt Microsoft will ever be able to catch up to them when they barely seem to recognize the importance of proper podcast support. Zune firmware 1.3 is scheduled for roll out soon and the update will not offer anything for podcasts and my guess is it will be Firmware 1.5 before we get full podcast support on Zunes. What exactly full support for Zune means to Microsoft remains to be seen.

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Zune Firmware Update 1.3 – Coming Mid-March

Feb 282007
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Yesterday I had a meeting w/ James, the Zune release manager and he spilled the beans on the next firmware update. In Mid March, we’re going to release Zune Firmware Update 1.3.  Here’s what’s in the update:

  • We’re fixing the skipping problem that some users were experiencing – that is, content acquired from Zune Marketplace will no longer skip when played on the device.

  • Improved device and software reliability, when it comes to device detection, and improved sync’ing.

  • We’ve made some changes to the FM Tuner so it no longer drains the battery when in sleep mode.

Now, for the inevitable question, “When is the *next* update coming?” or the corollary, “When do I get (insert ‘podcasting’ or another feature here)?” No specifics yet, but again, the dev team is always working on making Zune better. As we get closer to knowing what’s coming out and when, I’ll make sure and post. Also, know that some folks on the Zune team (including the Zune release manager) are reading this blog, and reading your comments. Thanks to everybody who has chimed in with ideas and suggestions (Cesar looks at John W, Tom, T, Swanlee, Rhett, and everyone who commented in yesterday’s post). You rock :) High five!

The specific date I heard on 1.3 was March 20, but let me double check w/ the team and get back to everybody.

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On Firmware Updates

Feb 262007
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Some (very vocal) folks are wondering about firmware updates. Or at least the communication around them.I had actually chimed in a previous post. But it’s worth updating/restating here:

As far as the silence around firmware updates. I feel your pain, and I understand how frustrating the silence is. Honestly though, just because there’s no word from the me/team, doesn’t mean we’re not listening, and that the dev team isn’t working hard. Right now they’d rather be heads down and make improvements than be interrupted to talk to marketing ;) . So, nothing specific (yet), but stay tuned.

Thoughts? If nothing else, this post can serve as *the* place to express your firmware thoughts. Thanks!

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Zune 1.2 Firmware is out!

 Music, The Zune, Video, Zune, Zune Firmware  No Responses »
Dec 182006
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The new firmware doesn’t add any new features but the performance is dramatically increases. I haven’t has any loading bars when switching from music, pictures, and videos. To update right click on your Zune in the Zune program and select check for device updates. Just click Ok and you Zune will be updated to 1.2.
From the update notes: “This required update will help enhance stability and performance.

For devices being upgraded from Zune firmware version 1.0, this update includes the enhancements provided in Zune firmware version 1.1.”

Update your Zune to 1.2
picture from zuneboards.com

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ZuneMAX.com Zunecast Episode #1 – Meet MAX

Nov 282006
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Welcome to the first ZuneMAX.com Zunecast Episode #1. It’s not a podcast but you iPod fans can still watch it. You may call it a Videocast although it’s not an Audiocast and Netcast sounds so 90′s I won’t bother so I produced my first Zunecast instead. It’s more a tutorial that I’m not totally happy with it but it’s done and I’m looking forward to trying it again.

My first try at Zunecasting is a continuation of my Meet MAX article and I spend a few minutes running through the Zune firmware for you. You can tell I had some notes to keep me on track because the first two times I tried to do it on the fly and I kept messing it up. I realized if I was going to properly cover all of it I would have to have notes to keep me focused and still I messed it up. I barely go over the FM tuner and there is one mistake in the video. We’ll see if anyone catches it.

Since it’s my first Zunecast I am trying a few new tools with our blog software. You have the choice of watching the Google Video you see here now or you can use the player located at the top of this blog post to watch the movie now or you can download the entire file for playback later.

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Oct 022006
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Our new forum moderator Spell 125 has graciously donated his time and effort to assisting me, the graphically challenged, by designing a new header for the front page of the Zune MAX blog. The goal was to flow better with the design and style of the forums and to show our relationship to the Zune device.
I think it looks awesome and I’m most appreciative of his work for our community. Spell 125 is on a roll considering he was also the lucky winner of a Zune poster when selected as designer of the Zuneguy logo.

Spell 125 is better known as James Hostetler and for his blog DAPularity which offers the low down on the latest digital audio players (DAP) in the market. He’s come up with a cool iPod vs Zune size comparison image that shows the difference between a Zune, an iPod and a deck of cards. It really helps put things in perspective as to the actual size of Zune for those of us unfortunate enough not to have held one yet.

James also has a nice write up on Rock Box on Zune. which is a very designable custom firmware used to extend the software capabilities of digital audio players. He feels Microsoft has no reason not to open up the Zune for customization or "modding". He writes in his DAP blog: "By basing the coding off a commonly used language and OS, Windows made their PDAs easily accessible to windows-based applications and allowed them to run a multi-tude of interesting multimedia programs. I would have to say I expect the same efforts for the Zune. By placing no barriers between the Zune and its customers, I believe Microsoft will open it up to those respectable modders that make our life so much more personalized."

I have to agree with James in that the best move Microsoft can make is to open up the Zune platform to the army of existing Windows developers for an almost endless array of extensions and applications for Zune. The power of the Windows development world is a vital asset in the success and capabilities of Zune. I’m hopeful the announcement by David Cauldon at Zunester about there not being a Zune SDK relates to the fact they have something much larger prepared for Zune developers. I think it may be more like a Zune XNA Framework, or Zune ZNA maybe, that would be used for development on the Zune. David says Zune is not a platform but a  consumer device. I say the consumer will decide that the Zune is in fact a platform and should left for all of us to personalize with third party extensions for a truly "connected experience" in our "digital lifestyle". The market will force them to open the platform to developers if they want it to succeed and in the end there will be a Zune SDK of some form or other.

So, I would like to thank James for his work on cleaning up the look of things around here. I would also like to thank all the other dedicated members of the Zune community for their ambitious assistance in building a great forum. We’re having fun in our Zune boards and you should check it out if you haven’t yet.


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