Scripting News for 11/14/2006

The Zune of Steve’s eye 

I met with the people doing the Zune at Microsoft in the summer of 2004, when podcasting was gaining traction (in Seattle no less), but wasn’t showing on their radar yet. I explained how they could make their device a perfect podcast client. I couldn’t tell what they were thinking of course, but it seemed they weren’t convinced podcasting was real. Too bad, they could have made a simple product, not had to do any deals with Hollywood, and do an end-run around Apple, which still hasn’t made the corner turn to DRM-less media (which is one of the most profound things about podcasting, and no accident, I assure you).

A striking thing about that little section of Microsoft: pictures of Steve Jobs on doors, walls, bulletin boards, each with a quote from Steve below it. The pictures were there, I was told, to motivate them, and to remind them of their goal. The usual thing for Microsoft, a taillight chase.

One more thought, a question actually, does anyone know about the protocol that allows Zunes to share tunes with other Zunes? Is it open and clonable (ie, if I made a podcast device, could I use the protocol). And I suppose it’s naive to ask if it’s patented, but what the heck — is it?

Brier Dudley of the Seattle Times sheds some light.

Ryan Tate wonders if Zune is a developer platform.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Phil Thompson on November 14, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    Apple and Microsoft are ignoring a huge market by making such lousy podcast catchers. I’m excited to see how open, hackable devices like the chumby can maybe fill the void.

    On the upside, MS has the hardware in place and selling now, which is more than Apple can say (still no wifi). I’d say that Jobs won’t let his cash cow ipod platform fall behind and we’ll see this in ’07 at the latest.

    One more thing, MS could make the Zune kick ass for podcasts with a firmware update they push to all the users. The wifi is already there. My guess is that they won’t do this until Apple does it first.


  2. The tune sharing is over 80211 and wrapped with Windows Media DRM. If you clone that, you’ll hear from the other Steve.

    But you can share your DRM free stuff and photos Zune to Zune, without the three play/three day limit. I haven’t tried this yet, but if your podcast was in MP3 you should be able to beam it to other Zunes. The marketing stuff even says you can share podcasts ( but I guess that depends on how you define podcast – you’ve got to push the content piece by piece instead of use RSS.

    Like Phil said, Microsoft is talking up the flexibility/upgradeability of the firmware so perhaps squeaky wheels will get new features they want added. It would be interesting to use RSS to subscribe to a friend’s playlist so you get notified when they’ve added something you want to sample; that would be similar to social music services such as iLike and may already be on the MS roadmap. If they could narrate the list somehow, that would be a cool podcast.


  3. The whole situation of Microsoft paying blood money to UMG is a disgrace. Not only that but to then have the CEO of UMG call iPod owners thieves. As has Steve Baller and the boss of Real, is also a disgrace. I don’t like being called a thief, not matter who you are. What gives these goones the right?

    Just because UMG are getting a $1 for every Zune sold doesn’t change how people use music players. By what they’re saying then that makes Zune owners just as much thieves as us thieving iPod owners.

    Microsoft were weak for bending to their demands. A lot is said about Steve Jobs, but he stood up to the music cartels and shook them up.

    As for podcasting. It’s probably Microsoft getting caught up in so much red tape simply because they couldn’t bring themselves to use the term podcast. They certainly had the time to put it in to Windows Media Player 11.

    Then again, they can’t seem to get much right. 🙂


  4. What would be killer would be to use the WiFi capability to make HTTP connections to arbitrary websites instead just to other nearby Zunes. Then you could download podcasts while on the go. Doesn’t seem like it would be hard to add — you just need Web client software to parse the RSS files and download and organize the enclosures.

    If Zune were/is an open platform someone could just write the software. Is it?


  5. Diego, I’d have to check, but I’m pretty sure that when I was meeting with them, we hadn’t adopted the term podcasting yet. 🙂


  6. Dave, OK I see. Well then they just didn’t get it (and still don’t) from the start then? 🙂


  7. Dave, most people find podcasts through iTunes, most people listen to them in iPods (if they listen to portable devices at all). The Zune is a disgraced, it should have podcasts, it should have a bunch of things… It isn’t true that you can share your podcasts with the Zune, I mean, you can (from Zune to Zune only), but it will have the three days three plays limit even if it’s yours. Why? Because Microsoft just doesn’t get it. The Zune only works with Windows. Why? Because Microsoft wants to force you to use Windows to listen to music! It is an extension of their monopoly and it is illegal… Hopefully it will take them more than a couple of years and by then we may have an administration with some balls to face unscrupulous companies….


  8. Well, Nokia have proved that its possible to squeeze ‘proper’ Wifi connectivity in the N91 etc. WITH a podcatcher builtin – WITH an OPML directory reader. (though not supporting ‘inclusion’ (yet – though I have spoken to them)

    So, no idea why the Zune won’t have this yet.

    maybe, they’re playing the game of ‘launch a crippled device to start with’ then see everyone frown.

    .. then, Rev the firmare (as that it is possible with the Zune – is it on the iPod? I dunno) to enable the hardware to do what it should do – ie: make HTTP connections, then see everyone jump for joy.

    *pinches self* – Nah. i can’t see that happening either.

    I still say Archos rules: as it does the ULTIMATE Podcasters dream – Create AND Consume. (not all models, granted)

    What ever happened with iRiver? They were at least the ones who got people recording MP3 from a pocket device. Now all they need is mobile connectivity.

    See you at CES – where I will be hunting for manufacturers of decent podcast devices. Then on to MacWorld, where I’ll be on a podcasting panel. *g*


  9. Alfredo,
    I heard that non-DRMed content – ie: podcasts, do not have the 3days2play limit on Zune. Not confirmed.


  10. Posted by heavyboots on November 14, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    Speaking of bad Zune reviews, this video review by CNN is hilarious. Somewhere, a Microsoft PR flack’s head exploded I fear…


  11. Posted by Solo on November 15, 2006 at 12:39 am

    Not to defend All Things Apple, but they do a decent (not perfect) job of acting as a portal for lots of non DRM’ed podcasting. It was in their interest to do so. iTunes is more useful for me as a tool to keep current with subscribed podcasts than as a music player.


  12. Posted by Paul on November 15, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Dave, something weird is going on with your feed (11/15). Eleven new stories (according to the time stamp, 11:22 Pacific today) that seem to be years old. In one, you say it’s December 1. And then you’re talking about some Frontier development and documentation in another? And then there’s some talk about Clinton and the Canadian elections. Wow, was I confused until I realized something is WAY up (or rather down) with your feed:)


  13. Posted by Mark on November 15, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    A few comments.
    I think the team you talked with is different than Zune team. It may have been another music player being developed within MS. From reading msm and zune blog coverage, the zune effort started about 11 months ago.
    The zune to zune sharing wraps all content with 3 times/3 days. So it adds DRM to all content not just already DRMed content. MS claims this 3/3 is not DRM, but anything that limits usage of media is DRM in my book.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: