It is now September 15th, and that means that you are now able to go and grab the Zune 4.0 update. Go ahead and do it, if you love music. The Zune.net site is still undergoing maintenance, but if you have the old version of the Zune player, just launch it and have it check for updates, and you’re golden.
The wait for the big Zune refresh that a lot of us have been clamoring for is finally over. Today, the Zune HD launches, available from the Microsoft online store, Amazon, Best Buy, and others. Alongside that launch comes a much-improved Zune software and services package. That’s right, Zune 4.0 is here, and there’s lots to cover. Let’s dive in and take a look at all the major new features in Zune 4.0, as well as some of the smaller pieces of fit and finish that make this release shine, including the Zune Marketplace, Zune PC software, Zune on Xbox Live, and Zune.net.
From everything we’ve seen as it pertains to the Zune 4.0 software, this update is all about making music more enjoyable to listen to, easier to discover, and easier to manage. In addition, you get movies in the Zune Marketplace now (both rental and purchase,) Xbox Live integration, and a bunch of other features that make Zune 4.0 one of the best pieces of media management software that we’ve used to date.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Zune 4.0 is the Quickplay screen. Similar to the Quickplay area on the new Zune HD, the Zune desktop software gets similar treatment. Here you’ll be able to pin specific content to the area, get a look at new content you’ve recently added to your library, pull up recently played content, and also get direct access to your Smart DJ mixes. Smart DJ, you say? Yes, read on.
While not as exciting when the Apple Store online goes down, you should still be aware that Microsoft has taken all Zune services down in preparation for the launch of the Zune 4.0 software, and the release of the Zune HD tomorrow. We are guessing things will be functional again around midnight tonight. In fact, you may wanna stop by Gear Live around that time as well. Just sayin’.
One things we’ve been wondering today, admidst all of the Apple It’s Only Rock and Roll event news, is how Microsoft was feeling, especially as it pertains to their Zune business, which is set for a major overhaul in six days. We got in contact with a Microsoft spokesperson, and asked them about what they thought of the new iPod and iTunes announcements. Here’s what they had to say:
Since our debut, Zune has offered a different kind of end-to-end digital entertainment experience that includes wireless MP3 players, a robust online store, music community and innovative software features that help users easily find the music and videos they love.
The entertainment experience for consumers hasn’t changed that much after Apple’s announcement today. Our point of view has always been that people want to be entertained, and they want a better way to watch and listen to the digital entertainment they love. We’re interested in getting you your content where you want it in rich, exciting ways. We look forward to sharing more on September 15th.
Okay, so Zune is all about music and videos - not games, video recording, and all that other stuff. We get it, and we like the focus. What we don’t like, though, is how Microsoft allowed Apple to steal their thunder by announcing the new line-up way after Microsoft announced the Zune HD, followed up by Apple launching the new iPods a week before the Zune HD hits stores.
In the meantime, if you’re a music fan looking for a new music player, we say wait until the fifteenth. What you see come out of the Zune camp may surprise you. All of you. I’ve already said too much.