It goes without saying that Microsoft wasn’t going to let the likes of Apple’s iTunes, Napster and Spotify just walk into the burgeoning digital media market without trying to grab a piece of the action for itself. Zune is its answer to these services, offering unlimited access to movies and music via monthly subscription, plus the option to buy individual music tracks, albums and video outright, all through your existing Windows Live ID.
Zune is designed to work on Microsoft-powered devices, such as PCs, Windows 7 phones and the Xbox 360 console, and this is the software player that powers it on the PC. It’s a very minimalist affair, and is split into four sections: Quickplay, Collection, Marketplace and Social. Collection is where your existing content is stored, including files and Windows Media playlists already present on your PC when you install the software, while Marketplace is where you browse the eight million tracks and videos on offer – it’s all very quick and easy thanks to the search box and friendly navigation.
Social is where you can connect with other Zune users to share your tastes and pick up hints in return, while Quickplay is where your favourite content can be accessed from one customisable screen.
It’s all very slick and well put together – you can use it simply as a replacement for Windows Media Player, or to make the most of Microsoft’s Zune service; just don’t expect it to work with your iPod or any other non-Zune hardware device.
This is a slickly presented media player that’s easy to navigate and integrates well with the online Zune experience, although you’ll need a compatible portable device to get the most out of it.