I’ve already expressed my ire at Microsoft’s “Welcome to the social” schtick — not so much because of the concept of wirelessly sharing files, but because the whole thing sort of falls apart when you can’t find people to share files with.
It turns out that there’s another reason Zunes are antisocial. Even if you do manage to find another Zune owner, you might not be able to share your music anyway. The music labels determine which files can be shared and which can’t, and it appears that they’re generally not too keen on even the limited sharing the Zune allows. That’s not Microsoft’s fault, but this is: when you actually buy a track from the store, you have no idea if the track is shareable or not. So the only feature that really differentiates the Zune from its nemesis is now annoying to use. Way to go, Microsoft.
It also occurs to me that this whole issue of labels restricting the sharing feature is something Microsoft should have hammered out beforehand, in much the same way that Apple got all the labels to agree to a $0.99/track price. Part of the attraction to iTunes is that simple processes pull more people; it’s actually easier to buy music via iTunes than going to a store, because everything is subject to the same price and conditions. Oh, well. Another hard lesson learned.