Your Windows Phone will never be the same again.
*Editorial! This is all opinion. Nothing here is as far as I know going to be in the next version of the Zune Desktop. I just think it should be =D
That’s no typo. Windows 7 is really the 6’th version of windows & there’s a debate as to what windows phone mango is. HTC went from HD2 to HD7 & don’t get me started on Apple. So I decided that I’ll keep going with the theme. Zune desktop is the best way to manage media by far if your on a PC. I’ve run Zune (codenamed Dorado) on a netbook with no issues. I can easily start iTunes bashing but if you’ve used that bloated pile of crap then you know the misery that comes with using the windows version of it. From the way it files media to the fact that it can’t even function in the taskbar correctly when pinned. Its performance or lack there of are just the beginning of its issues. Before I jump onto its sterile & dated UI. This is about Zune 7.0.
The desktop experience hasn’t change much. Its gotten better in some respects. Its faster. The smart DJ has gotten better. But in some respects its taken steps back. The buttons are still too small. The beautiful background images are to faded making it hard to see. The Zune desktop experience is over due for an overhaul. Looking around at Microsoft’s other products & services, we know this can be done. It can be faster! Even easier to use! And it can completely blow iTunes away.
1: Lets start with the core. That’s where it matters. If I.E:9 is proof of anything, hardware optimization matters. Bring in the team that made I.E the bad ass it is & have them rev-up Dorado. Zune needs to download media faster. Pre-fetch & cache streaming media faster. Detect devices and sync faster. Especially over Wi-Fi. Clicking between menus and section could stand a tune up.
2: Streamlined & optimize the UI. I’ve said it once & I’ll say it again. The buttons are way too small. To the point of even the pointer of my mouse is too big to do the job. Redesign the Zune desktop UI as if it was being made for a tablet. Larger metro-esq fonts & buttons. Think of it like a 10-foot Metro UI. Windows phone meets Xbox 360. Get rid of the restore button. Its useless on a media player. Stick with the minimize, mini player & close buttons but larger. Sorting thru playlist, albums, photo folders and videos should be like viewing media on an Xbox. Searching for Individual files like browsing for individual files on a windows phone. Playlist should have an artist cover of the newest or most played song in the playlist. Increase the font by 2 points. Its hard to see the song titles.
3: Make it even faster. Instant search. Auto populate the designated fields as I search. Auto-correct the spelling of bands and names. Bring in the Bing team. Tear down the silos Microsoft. Your paychecks all come from the same place.
4: Give me more control. An 10-band graphic equalizer with presets and SRS WOW audio post-processing system that directly interfaces with or completely overrides windows audio settings. Gapless playback. Mass tag editing. Volume normalization. Crossfade playback. Library backup including playlist. Zune should have total control of windows audio settings. If I can download apps & drivers that can modify the sounds that come out of my PC. Zune should have no problem.
5: Give me more information of what I’ve got. Save my mobile apps to the PC as a backup. Bonus points if you can back up the apps settings. That way I can view them & choose what I want on my phone. This is done with the Zune HD.
6: Allow me to make my own ringtones from with Zune desktop. As long as I own the song, I should be able to make a ringtone that I’ve edited to the way I like & save it as a copy on my PC.
7: Keep the current MixView Visualizer, quickplay and the marketplaces UI the same. But allow right click functionality in the app marketplace for faster app purchases. Add Support for subtitles & closed-captioning for local media, video on demand streaming or live streaming scenarios. Support Windows Media captions support the SAMI file format that can also carry embedded closed caption data.
8: Improve streaming to the Xbox 360. Make pairing to a users Xbox to Zune as easy as pairing a windows phone for wireless library syncing.
9: As long as we’re sharing. Allow my library to be streamed and viewed by near by Zune users on the same wireless network or Zune users in my social.
10: The taskbar won’t immediately go away in full screen video playback. This is why hardware optimization is important.
11: The backgrounds are very pretty. In Zune vers 3.0 they were in perfect balance. Visible but not intrusive. Please bring this back. If I wanted a sterile UI that looks like it was designed by a hospital administrator, iTunes is always an option.
12: I don’t have plans on buying any more DVDs. But not allowing me to play DVDs thru Zune desktop isn’t going to make me buy replacements for the DVD’s I already have. So how’s this for a deal. I will get my movies & any visual media through Zune. In exchange I get to play the DVDs I have without having to use windows media player. Which is worst than iTunes.
13: There’s an app in the windows phone marketplace called PC remote. Microsoft, please buy the rights to it. Hire the devs & build it into windows phone and Zune. Add Xbox support to it. That way it doesn’t matter whether my PC is connected to my t.v or if its my Xbox. I can control the media of either with my phone.
14: Zune is already a cloud music service by virtue of it being a music subscription service that I can stream music from. Google, Amazon and iTunes are making lockers. Zune really only needs to mirror my library in the cloud and seamlessly stream it to my phone as if all my songs were physically on the device. Copy my playlist let me listen to it as if I was at my desktop. Use SkyDrive if you have to have a copy of the XML file. All that’s being done is my playlists is being stored in SkyDrive. since I’m streaming directly from Zune anyway, no deals need to be made with the record companies. The correlating song are streamed accordingly. Any songs not in Zune catalog can be copied into SkyDrive. Bonus points if you can figure out a way so that I don’t need the files on my PC. Just the song in a playlist. That way I can save hard drive space. Possible solution to giving Mac users the full Zune experience.
15: 1 Seed song for smart playlist isn’t enough. 2 Or 3 songs would be great.
16: With podcast support coming to the Zune mobile marketplace. It would be great if dorado would copy the feed to the phone regardless of if the podcast is available in the marketplace or not. The Stitcher app is taking its sweet time making its way to wp7. Please make it worth not having on a windows phone.
17: look at the Windows Phone Device Manager. The app is exquisite. Everything that windows mobile device manager should’ve been. When I click phone in dorado, I should get that apps functionality. That’s where I want to control what docs go into the phone. What ringtones go into my phone. Bonus points if you allow for custom notification sounds. Book marking syncing between my desktop browser and my mobile browser.
18: Internet radio streaming. Allow me to put in a stations site & save it like a channel. Support local playback, streaming playback with multicast streams and progressive downloads.
19: Put the kin studio (especially the UI) & windows phone live into the desktop. I don’t want to go into the browser. A really good and compelling app is 1 where I rarely have to step out of it to do anything. I should have to step out of the phone to do anything related to the phone. windowsphone.live.com should be for moments when i’m not at my computer. when I’m at my computer, windowsphone.live.com kin studio style should be in the Zune Desktop. Bonus points if you bundle the Zune app with Games for Windows live desktop app and Windows live Essentials. Downloading iTunes means that I have to be nagged every 5 minute’s to also download safari & mobile me for windows. Games for windows live & Windows Live Essentials are actually useful.
20: Bring back premium channels. Have them sponsored. Fitness channels by gym or reebok. etc..
21: Seeing screenshots of an app is o.k. But in the dev tools, there’s a virtual wp7 device that can show how the apps work. Bring that to Zune desktop. In the marketplace, when I click on an app, below buy and try. Have a demo button. Allow users to test drive the app prior to downloading it.
22: Zune HD or Xbox 360 style scrubbing when playing video.
23: Recruit artist for more backgrounds. in addition to more background images, PLEASE allow for another base color other than white.
24: Automatically track changes to actual files in the library. If I move a delete or file in the desktop app (excludes photos) whether its a song that I own or is part of Zune pass, A podcast episode or video. Please have the Zune desktop app be intelligent to know what happened to it. Don’t give me a yellow exclamation symbol.
25: Priority download & sync. Allow me to choose what I want downloaded and synced to my device 1’st. Please let me choose what takes priority for syncing if I don’t have a lot of space on my phone. I may value podcast over songs.
Zune is pretty light weight & system resource conservative. The idea isn’t to make dorado as bloated & slow as iTunes. But to make it feature rich. So that like windows phone 7, I there’s little reason to leave the Zune desktop to anything related to consuming media or interacting with my phone. As it stands right now I’ll take Zune over iTunes anyway. The way iTunes is currently written, you’d think Apple was trying to sabotage windows. My AMD driven laptop isn’t the best laptop around. But running iTunes makes it feel like my o.s has a virus. But Zune needs to be the killer media app on windows.
Its time to treat Zune desktop the way you do office and i.e. Get rid of windows media player. For non Zune/windows phone & iOS device players, there’s other media managers available. For free! But Zune like iTunes & all the media managers out there are starting to feel dated. For many like me the desktop is the t.v and home stereo. Bring the best of the Xbox, Zune, Bing and windows phone to Zune desktop in a rich friendly UI & feature rich package. Windows Media Center is awesome. Its how i experience Netflix and its a gr8 DVR. That app can stay.
ONE MORE THING: For Zune to really dominate, it has to be everywhere. Google music, which is nothing more than an online storage locker is nothing compared to the Zune Media Experience. Anyone who knows anything about sports will tell you a win means more when you beat your opponent on their home turf. iTunes has been a killer app on Windows for almost it’s existence. Time for Zune to bring it to their turf.
Android on Zune & vise versa: Its time to kill Google music in its crib. As it stands right now Google music is just an online locker that only stores music. So if you have a Dropbox account or RDio this is a supersized locker that won’t let you store anything other than music. So I propose a Zune App for android phones. it would essentially bring up the Zune Media player from the Zune HD. The full Zune Experience for Android users (no access to Windows Phone Marketplace). Syncs like a Zune (sans the wireless syncing). has the social built into the app. Google music goes the way of Google Buzz and Google Wave. It would also be a definite challenger to Amazons music locker. For good measure find a way for the Blackberry to be allowed on Zune . The UI’s are already there. Need a touch screen UI? You have your choice of the Zune HD, Zune in Windows Phone or the KIN TWO. Need a small screen UI for phones with keyboards and blackberry style scroll points? Port it from the KIN One or the Zune 80 GB devices.
Apple has had it pretty easy for a while. They’ve put out crapier and crapier versions of iTunes. As I’ve said, its like intentionally downloading a VIRUS. Regardless of the fact that its boring and bloated its still the most popular app on windows. Zune with the help of Xbox has been slowly but surely eating iTunes lunch. Lets see how they like it: Remember when I said that if Zune is a cloud service that doesn’t files on your computer. Not store wma only would it help save space but it could be a Zune on Mac solution? Check #14. As of right now there is not really a subscription music solution like Zune for Macs. Not Rhapsody, you can kind of do it with Napster, in fact if you compare the Windows version of both those services to the Mac version. At best they all stream at mid-range quality. You’ll notice a gap that you can drive a truck through. My theory is that Mac either can’t or won’t do WMA files with DRM.
But if I’m leasing my music because we’re throwing away the concept of “owning” music. Then why does it have to be on my hard drive at all. Store every song that’s not an MP3 in the cloud and in a playlist I create. To play it from a Mac, Zune desktop would simply stream it. the only time it would actually download is when it’s syncing to Windows Phone or a Zune device. My roommate is a Mac user but he loves his Zune. I know tons of mac users that love the Zune HD, the Zune Pass Service, the Zune Xbox experience. Many have called it better than Apples offerings. Some have even said that it’s so elegant that its Mac like (we’ll forgive them their trespasses on that one).
Take this idea a step further. Make a Zune iOS app. Put a virtual Zune right on the iPhone or iPod touch. Give them a taste of both the Metro UI @ the Zune Social (this way they can see how it done). Within a year iTunes market share will sink like a stone in a lead pond. More market share means more deals with the record and movie Studios for more content. And having some of the Zune experience will on a Mac, on a Droid and on an iOS device will probably get some people to come over to Windows and Windows Phone.
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