Use Zune Pass on Windows 8 Release Preview

Windows 8 is the next iteration of Windows. For those not as familiar, Windows 8 is a radical change as Microsoft is introducing the Metro design for Windows. You can find out more about Metro at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_(design_language)

With Windows 8, Microsoft is integrating a lot of its services to take advantage of its several platforms. Windows Phone, Xbox, Hotmail, Skydrive and other consumer services already uses one authentication via Live ID and it makes sense that the new OS will take advantage of this. If you’ve tried the pre-release versions of Windows 8, you can easily see the influence of this even from the login screen.

With this integration, news of rebranding of some services like the Zune are abound and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.

Anyways, if you’re using a Zune Pass, don’t fret as you can still access music just like before using the built in music app in Windows 8.

As I wanted to maximize the integration of the services with my new Windows 8. I loggedin using my hotmail account synced with Zune and lo and behold it actually works.

The music app works just like the Zune app but some features are missing like the mixed view. Some of the navigation features are still missing and adding songs to the current playlist doesn’t exist.

not really sure how to add songs to “now playing” and don’t tell me i haven’t tried “add to my music”

I know this is still an app preview so no surprises that these features are missing and I’m guessing that they are focusing on the main features so far.

There’s a bit of getting used to in the Music App. For one, there’s a lot of scrolling and clicking going on. Just to know the individual songs in the album, I have to do twice the clicks compared to the Zune app. Because of the design of Metro apps that has to cater for different form factors like tablets, this limits power users like me to navigate the app like everybody else. Whenever I use an app extensively, I learn as much shortcuts as I can as I want to get to the action as fast as I can. Browsers, email clients, OSes and such allow you to do this, but once an app is designed for multiple purposes it loses this advantage. I know Windows 8 has several shortcuts for you to get to the settings, the app bar, etc, but if you are navigating on the content of the application yourself, the developer has to create shortcuts of their own.

Overall, I’m very happy that the Zune will be continued (either as the Music app or something else) but I hope they empower the Music app just like the Zune. A nicely designed app that shows me what I want to see when searching and exploring new music. Come to think of it, the Zune app was one of the first applications to use the Metro language way back. A nice, cleanly made application that made great use of white space all through out.

If you are using Windows 8 Release Preview and notice any gems like these, please comment on. Would love to know what you think of the apps and how you’ll be using it.

PS. Super happy that Skitch is on Windows 8. Skitch is a photo annotating app on the Mac OS.

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Zune 4.0 and Windows 7

Finally, finally, finally got Windows 7 on my home machine. After much waiting for Lenovo’s final drivers for Windows 7, I finally had quality time with my T400. Done with the installation I had no problem getting the correct drivers as Lenovo has a very nifty tool on discovering your machine. This will then download and install the necessary components. So in case you didn’t get your Windows 7 pre-installed, just look for ThinkVantage System Update.

Onto Zune! Hey! Finally got me one of the Zune players from one of my colleagues. Shout out to Chewy for that! Not the Zune HD but a Zune none the less. Comes with all the syncing goodness and podcast madness.

So, what’s up with the title you ask? If you read my previous post on the Zune here, you’ll know just how much I love it. With Windows 7, they made some cool features just for the OS, harnessing the power of that amazing taskbar. And can I say I just love that taskbar (and Windows 7 in general)

I opted for the none-iconish task bar. Best of both worlds if you ask me 😉

Jumplists FTW!

For the Windows 7 uninitiated, jumplists is a new introduction to the Windows family. Making the taskbar more functional, jumplists is a fast and easy way to access common tasks on the application without having it on focus. This makes things much easier and faster to do. So far a bunch of apps already has it and more on the way. (Saw some Firefox jumplists a couple of days back). If you want more nerd rave on jumplists, check out Aimee’s blog on making your own jumplists.

Aero Peek

Another taskbar productivity addition is the aero peek. Now all these terms confuse me but I don’t care as long as it works. Essentially on the Zune, it allows me to have access to the basic functions just by hovering on the icon. Hover, some control pops up, click next then boomz! (lol)

That’s it for me and hopefully you guys have tried out Windows 7. I’m so happy that one of my non-techy pals enjoys her Win7 so much that she became an informal evangelist. That’s you RainWalker!

Hit me with Zune and Windows 7 questions!

~Eugene


Zune 4.0 Review

I’ve been an avid user of the Zune since I got my first Zune pass and I’ve been downloading tons of music and getting to know amazing artists all through out via the marketplace. With the release of the Zune HD, the Zune team also updated the software that comes with it and I have nothing but praises so far. (read my zune pass post here for some context)

Well this ain’t a review on Zune HD just because I don’t have one and I don’t think I’ll have one anytime soon. (Darn restrictions! I bet I’m not alone) This is about the Zune 4.0!

The Zune team made a great job of updating the player in so many aspects. I’m always a firm believer that small changes have great impacts and this update just screams it right into my face. There was no major UI change but rather small functional updates that just makes the experience overly enjoyable. From viewing the mix art to the smart DJ, the Zune just has this easy feel to it that it’s actually a joy to fiddle around and get lost.

The first screen introduces a number of new things that you can do. Focusing on the common things that one does on a music player it gives you easy access to the things that you would most likely do. Rather than wasting your time looking for that album, Zune arranges things for you and gives you place holders for your favorite music.

Smart DJ is something new as well. They have this magic algorithm that lines up related music based on the artist that you feed it. Not just that, but it also connects to the Zune Marketplace for you to discover related artists (this I love).

Mixart was changed to be more viewable. I don’t know if the bigger albums have any significance but I do enjoy looking at this more than before.

Hovering over an album now gives you options on what you want to do with it. Unlike before where you only had one option: PLAY

More pics below and most of it speaks for itself. Conclusion afterwards. 😉

Picks for ye

Music for ye

Music for ye

You get the point

something new though

Apps for ye!

Apps for ye!

Now this is a Zune HD only thing but the best part is YOU, yes YOU can develop your own apps for it. XNA based, I’m still unclear how you can “sell” your app though or how they’re going to distribute an app you submitted. We’ll see in time.

Overall the whole software was vastly improved. Already great on its own, the Zune team revised it with the launch of the Zune HD.

Try it out by going to http://zune.net/en-US/ Just tell them you’re from US and all’s well 🙂

Any Zune users out there? Give me feedback!

PS. My iTunes updated the same day as the Zune. dundundundun. Although I still hate it coz it looks like a board full of ads. 🙂

Hit me! comments below

~eugene