First impressions of the new Zune software

As a Zune and Windows Media Center owner I have eagerly waiting the new Zune software with its promise of improved Recorded TV and podcast support. As the upgrade is available on today I downloaded it and kicked the install off.

After about 10 minutes the software was installed and it was up and running, the new UI is a vast improvement over the old version, it looks like a complete re-write which is good as the v1 software was a customized Windows Media Player.

Once I connected my Zune to the PC the software asked me to update the firmware to 2.2 which took about 5 minutes and the device rebooted a couple of times, I didn’t have to touch the Zune at all. One nice touch is the way it handles connecting your Zune to a second PC, in the v1 software it asked you every time if you wanted to connect as a guest but in the new version you can tell the software to always connect it as a guest. I use my Zune on my UMPC as well as my Media Center PC and it was a pain to keep telling the software to make it a guest.

The new user interface on the Zune device has been improved; it’s clearer and seems faster. The music experience seems the same expect when browsing an Artist you can see their albums on a carousel at the top of the device. Pictures now give a count on the pictures in a folder, I am sure I will find other changes as I start using it.

Podcast support is one feature that I was really looking forward too. With the V1 software I had been struggling to find an elegant way of downloading and syncing podcast. I used Doppler to download the shows then use a monitored folder to do the syncing and I find most of the time I ended up syncing it myself. The other problem was finding the shows on the Zune once they had downloaded, some podcasters don’t tag their shows up as Podcasts so they end up in with the rest of my music. This all changes in the V2 software, podcasting gets its own section in the devices and on the software. Much like iTunes you can subscribe to a podcast RSS feed and it downloads the latest 3 shows automatically and then you can pick what you want it to do with the other shows. I did like the syncing options, you can tell the Zune software to sync unplayed episodes, all episodes, the first unplayed or not to sync at all. I have set it to sync unplayed shows to hopefully it will keep track of what I have listened to and only sync the new ones. This setting is specific to the podcast, so different feeds can have different syncing options. Finding the shows from the Zune is much better, with the dedicated Podcast section and you can easily find and play the downloaded shows. There is also one click subscribe option that podcasters can add to their site

Next I looked at Media Center support

In the videos section of the software I could see my recorded TV shows all I had to do was right click on the show , select Sync and then it copied the show to my Zune. There must be some transcoding going on as it took about 20 minutes to sync a 30 minute TV show and during that time the Zune software was hitting the CPU pretty hard. The size of the TV show in Media Center was 1.08GB and on the Zune it was 429MB but the quality of the video is good but it looks like there is some motion blur, I will have to play with it some more to be able get a more detailed impression

I haven’t looked at auto syncing TV yet

So over all I am very impressed with the new Zune software and firmware, the Windows software is a million miles away from the old software and the syncing options are much better. Basically the whole package now works for me they way I want it to, with TV support, podcasts, wireless syncing and the other new features.

Oh and all this was on my 3 month old V1 Zune 30, well done to Microsoft for supporting the early adopters. Technorati tags: ,


Pictures from the install

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Recorded TV Sync

 zune6 zune7

The new Zune UI


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5 Responses to “First impressions of the new Zune software”
  1. Iain says:

    Hi Ian,
    It was good to read your impressions of the new firmware. I have upgraded my Zune 30 and am enjoying rediscovering music in my collection with the new desktop software. I also picked up a new 80GB Zune today. It has been syncing my collection for the past 90 minutes but is only 50% complete. Have you joined the Zune Social? It is pretty cool. I will send you my Zune Card.
    I was looking for The Digital Lifestyle in the Marketplace Podcast Directory. You are not there yet but I am sure you have set the wheels in motion to be added.

  2. Ian says:

    Iain make sure you use the Suggest a Podcast function to see if it can get added that way

  3. Unknown says:

    I love the new look but, its now harder to organize as far as gender artist etc.. also now if you erase something off of your computer it’s erased from your zune as well. I think it sucks. The only good thing about it is the podcast.  

  4. Unknown says:

    I just got my Zune several weeks ago.  After spending an hour or more learning the software that came with the unit, a new update was forced on me.  Some of the changes I like, but overall, I would like to have the older software installed.  The new menu looks cheap to me where the older style had some class.   File management is much more complicated and I am an expert (system administrator for MS and Linux based systems) when it comes to micro computer systems.  This new Zune software is going to drive a novice crazy when it comes to transferring files to their device.  It appears to me that MS made most of the changes to drive the user into using their Marketplace to sell Zune products and files. I feel that is going to be a mistake, because users like me don’t like things forced on us.  I was a real Zune fan till this upgrade, now I have to wonder about the future of these devices.  I have a feeling I am not the only one that feels that way :-(

  5. Pink says:

    I agree with (no name).  I am a new Zune user, and I’m having a heck of a time organizing.  Especially this gender artist classification that I cannot change, evidently.I got the Zune for Dummies book (pub. date 7/07), but it goes by the old software.Evidently the old Zune’s came with a CD.  It looks — yes — like one can organize how one wants.  Now… I have to keep clicking around to find things because since I can’t organize, I can’t sync it with my Zune.(I’d also like to get rid of the "send to" step, which I will probably never use.)

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