Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Microsoft Wants You ... To Use Their MP3 Player

As if it weren't enough that they have taken over the home PC market and the business desktop ... they also want their software on cellular phones, video games systems, and MP3 players.

I don't know how you feel about this whole business, but the name "Microsoft" means everything but quality in my vocabulary. Their last attempt at an OS was Vista, which anyone will tell you is terrible (insert your digs here). My phone which runs Windows Mobile is practically unusable: mostly due to badly timed "Notifications" and the lack to do simple things like answer an incoming phone call. And their game systems? ... Well those seem to be okay! I love my X-Box original. Of course, I put a mod chip in it several years ago and most of my enjoyment comes from the Xbox Media Center software that I installed to it.

You may remember (or you may not) that Microsoft put out an MP3 player called the Zune a few Christmas's ago. A handful of anti-iPod types all ran out and bought one to get a taste of what was touted as "a new sharing experience". The perk in these devices was the ability to share music with your friends wirelessly. I was impressed with the concept. Advertisements featured pictures of young trendy people all standing around with headphones on - exchanging music with one another. But there is a catch. All of them would have had to have bought one of these devices (and most of your friends have all ready invested in an iPod). There were also some questions about Copyright. So naturally the device only let you "borrow" the music. In a few days time it vanished from your collection.

The device was anything but successful. It sold 1.2 million units (all together). The iPod passed the 100 million mark back in April of this year. Bill Gates was quoted as saying, "For something we pulled together in six months, we are very pleased with the satisfaction we got". Interesting. I wonder if he would say the same thing about the long awaited Windows Vista?

Asked what would be different about these new Zune devices Bill replied, "the satisfaction for the device was superhigh. The satisfaction on the software actually is where we’d expect to see a huge uptick this year. It was just so-so on the software side". So the good part about the device was the hardware, which was actually outsourced and engineered by someone else. The software (the only part that Microsoft actually worked on) was admittedly lackluster.

Microsoft plans to build a sharing community online where users can upload samples of songs, which can be downloaded and replayed on other Zune players. But only three times, then they go away forever. I don't expect users will spend much time hacking or trying to circumvent this protection when the same music is available for illegal download from so many other sources.

My message to Microsoft: Stop spreading out. Show that you care about, and are focusing on the areas in which you are all ready successful. Retool your Operating System so that you are no longer a successful "laughing stock" of the industry. And for God's sakes, leave your OS off of my portable devices. I don't have the patience to troubleshoot all of the problems you are creating and I am tired of having to explain to my user base that annoying features, and crashes are "by design".

Source: New York Times