Until yesterday I had never bothered really checking out the Zune, the actual device wasn't available in the UK. The marketplace obviously wouldn't work in the UK, not that I'd probably buy anything from there I do prefer my CD-quality sound. But one thing about the Zune had always interested me, the social aspect of it, and the recent rumours of a Zune client being available for Windows Mobile has made it far more interesting, and removed a lot of the potential lock-in aspects, like only syncing protected tracks to Zune devices.
Since moving to Aldershot and having to spend more time travelling I find I actually listen to music and podcasts a fair bit more. You need something to do on these long boring treks back and forth from town right? Right so I've been listening to music but over the last couple of months my music collection, which has barely changed in 5 years is started to feel old.
So yesterday I decided to try and get the Zune software working, at least partially to try and get Zune Social working. I don't have many friends in the US (the Zune shares your Xbox Live friend list), just a few but two of them use the Zune and I can see what they're listening too and so on. After spending a while in the registry I managed to get the marketplace to display, I managed to login with my UK Windows Live ID and I thought I was all set. Wrong. Zune Social didn't seem to be working. So I am assuming they're either filtering any non-US/Canada IP addresses or they're picking up the locale your computer is set to and filtering that server side. I could of course set my computer to the United States (which I really, really wouldn't want to do), but then it won't sign in with my Live ID, I could of course create a new Live ID based in the US - but to be honest that's too much hassle.
The Zune software itself is fantastic, far far better than I imagined. It has loads of gorgeous fluid animations and it looks awesome. I can see why many people have argued it should come with Windows and replace Windows Media Player - but there are counter arguments lets be honest, Windows Media Player has a much lower memory footprint, much faster loading times and syncs with virtually any mobile device that isn't locked down, i.e. iPod and Zune.
What would I like to see?
Stop blocking international users from using Zune Social. OK you won't be making money off us but it will be building mindshare. People will visit my blog and the websites of thousands of other people and see Zune Social badges.
Ideally of course I'd like to see it supported in the UK. Not tied to the Zune hardware, but opened up at least to Windows Mobile. And I'd like to see the Zune Pass priced at £7.99 a month at the most, or better yet £4.99 which would be an insanely successful price point.