The second generation Zune is coming out tomorrow, and while it looks prettier and has a larger capacity than the original, I think it’s fair to say that Microsoft has taken a step backwards. It sickens me that they haven’t managed to be more innovative in the time they’ve had. Instead of putting in sweet new features that people have requested for a year now, they’ve decided what’s best for the community at large and “dumbed down” the software on both the desktop and the Zune itself.
What they’ve taken out:
- The desktop software will no longer find items in real-time while typing in a search string
- The equalizer has been removed from the Zune player
- The five-star rating system is gone, replaced with a two-heart system*
- Play-counts are no longer recorded in the desktop software
- Smart playlists are no longer present in the desktop software
- Most ID3 tag editing in the desktop software has been removed
- The “flag item” ability has been removed from the Zune player
What they’ve added:
- Wireless syncing
- Podcast support
- Recorded Windows Media Center TV show support
* The new song rating system seems designed by a twelve year old girl. Previously, songs could be rated on a scale of 1 star to 5 stars, with 1 star songs sucking terribly and 5 star songs being your favorite. No longer. Now, all of your songs that were previously rated 3 stars and higher will be converted to a “heart” symbol, and those rated 2 stars and below will become a “broken heart.” That’s it. Mediocre 3 star songs now become as respected as those rare 5 star gems.
I’m going to miss many of the things above when the unavoidable “update” rolls around. I guess I was in the minority when I hoped that the software would become more intuitive at doing the things it could already do, and maybe add some more. I definitely must have been out of the loop when I thought they might add some more detailed ID3 information and music-sorting methods to the device itself, or even Audible audiobook support. Consider me genuinely disappointed with this “update.”
Update: After installing the software, it turns out there are a couple of corrections to be made. If you go to “list” view in the Zune desktop software, you can in fact do a bit of ID3 tag editing, but there’s still no mass-edit mode and it’s pretty limited. But a bigger surprise was that the equalizer is indeed still on the player, albeit in its original limited form. I don’t know if they removed it for the 2.1 update and added it back in 2.2, but the equalizer is definitely sitting there under “Settings”->”Music.”
Update 2: Apparently the equalizer only remains on updated Zune 30 devices (those are the first-gen Zunes). The new Zunes do not have an equalizer anymore…for some reason. Weird.