Zune Desktop

If you've launched your Zune Desktop lately, you've probably seen the pop-up message alerting you that features have changed. When you re-launch Zune you will find that there is no longer a Zune HD marketplace listing.

The only options available under the Zune Desktop Marketplace listing are Picks, Music, Videos and Podcasts. The option to view Apps, both Zune and the resurgent Windows Phone 7 apps, have vanished. We know that Microsoft is in the process of renovating the Zune services over to Xbox Music and this change could be part of that process.

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Back at the end of May, Microsoft surprisingly turned off the Windows Phone Marketplace from Zune Desktop. The “update” wasn’t software based but instead just altered a configuration file on the user’s computer, causing the Marketplace to be hidden.

We ended up using a simple hack (more of that below) to bring ours back but now a user in our forum (“rockstarzzz”) is claiming that they’ve received another feature-change notification…

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Although we're of the camp that doesn't mind that the Windows Phone Marketplace for apps has been retired from Zune Desktop, we imagine some of you think otherwise.

Luckily, Windows Phone guru Den Delimarsky has you covered. He figured out exactly what the change was that Microsoft pushed on to us all yesterday. More importantly, he also figured out to block that change so you can get back the Marketplace for those apps.

Unfortunately the change is a little tricky. Evidently the "update" comes from a simple modification in the configuration.xml that is sent from Microsoft every time you launch Zune Desktop. All you need to do is switch a "disabled" setting to "enabled" but the tough part is you have to intercept that .xml file.

That's where you'll need a mini-server (or something analogous). Basically you redirect your Zune Desktop to a local server where you can have it fetch your modified .xml file and boom, you're in business. Now of course, this is only works so long as you stay with version 4.8. If you update the Desktop client (and Microsoft is sure to push one eventually) you can probably kiss this trick goodbye.

Anyway, cool stuff just remember, you're using this at your own risk (sorry Microsoft if you get mad!). Go read the whole thing at Den's site for all the details.

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In a surprising move, Microsoft announced today on the Windows Phone blog that in the near future starting today you, won't be able to purchase or browse apps using the Zune Desktop software. (If you launch Zune Desktop, you'll be notified of the changes). In addition, you'll need Windows Phone 7.5+ to access and purchase new apps in the Marketplace, basically forcing users who are still on NoDo to finally update.

The Zune Desktop move seems odd until Microsoft explains that the overwhelming majority of users browse and purchase apps right on their phone or at the very least, use the Web Marketplace. So trying to focus their engineering efforts where it matters, Microsoft has decided to concentrate their efforts on those two areas and to forsake the Zune Desktop client.

Of course, we've also heard a lot of rumblings that come Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8), Zune Desktop as we know will be completely gone. Instead, purchasing Windows 8 apps and music will be handled more natively by the OS itself and plugging in your phone will be more akin to the Active Sync experience back in the Windows Mobile heyday.

The other requirement, needing Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" to access the store is also an interesting move. Without going into specific details, Mazhar Mohammed explains "Requiring Windows Phone 7.5 is part of a larger effort aimed at improving Marketplace performance and security, and paving the way for even faster growth and more new features."

We're not sure what the engineering limits are that are forcing these changes but evidently Microsoft considers it a priority enough to enforce it in the Marketplace.

Regarding  the Zune Desktop situation we have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we have to recognize that it is very likely to be a thing of the past in 6-8 months and we need to move on. On the other, one could argue that Zune Desktop absolutely killed iTunes as far as usability and it was one of Microsoft's really innovative desktop apps, so we're sad to see it slowly loose functionality.

How do these changes affect you? Sound off in comments and let us hear your thoughts.

Source: Windows Phone Blog

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We've heard that a new version of the Zune Desktop application is required for the upcoming Windows Phone 'NoDo' update and sure enough, an update just went live.

If you go to your Zune Desktop --> Settings --> Software --> General, you can force an update-check to grab v4.7.1404.0--which seems to be the same version as before, so we're unclear of any direct changes.

The new version of Zune Desktop is suppose to allow your Windows Phone to be backed up in preparation for 'NoDo', allowing you roll back if there are any problems during the flash. Of course the bigger news is this probably signifies that the actual Windows Phone update is only days, if not weeks away or that MS is gearing up for some changes in anticipation. (And call us crazy, but Zune seems to load a lot faster now).

Update: Cursory look so far reveals no significant changes besides perfomance. Find anything? Tell us in comments.

Update 2: While the overall version number is the same, two components have changed as noted by reader mparker: ZuneWmdu.dll and ZuneWmduResources.dll are both now v4.7.1407. Microsoft's support page in fact mentions these as needed for the software backup: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2498092 So this does look like a prep for the 'NoDo' update.

Thanks, David M., for the great observation!

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2498092
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No doubt, one of the coolest features of Windows Phone 7 and the companion Zune Desktop software is the ability to sync wirelessly. For years we've had to endure tethering our devices to our computers, loose USB wires everywhere, etc. (Even more ironic if you remember wireless syncing in ActiveSync before they removed it).

Consider this more of a walk-through/what to expect than a true "setup guide" only because Microsoft made it so easy that you really should have no problem figuring it out. Still, we'll show a couple screen shots of the process as well as tell you what you can expect. In short, it's a great feature and once you have your GBs of music loaded, you'll want to use everyday.

Read more after the break!

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File this under: not totally clear

The new Zune Desktop v4.7 client came out on Monday, adding of course Windows Phone 7 support and a few other additions related to video rentals/purchases. While most have been happy with the upgrade, it looks like a few users are experiencing potential memory leaks related to the media center app--but it may be isolated to just 64-bit editions of Windows 7.

ZNet is reporting that Microsoft is aware of the issue and investigating, while users in their forum look to find a solution. If you're experiencing such problems, there is a media-collection reset tool that may help with the problem.

On our end, running Windows 7 32-bit, the memory seems stable to use, with Zune v4.7 using a reasonable 58.8MB of memory and holding steady (by comparison, our Firefox browser is sucking 245MB, Chrome even higher)

Source: Zune Forums; via ZDNet; Thanks, Phil, for the tip!

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It's been longed rumored that Microsoft was going to make the Zune software compatibile with Apple's desktop OS, but the question still remains when? While we still don't know the answer to the latter question, we now know officially that Microsoft is making the Zune software Mac friendly syncing possible between Windows Phone 7 and a Mac (see Update 2, below).

In a Tweet that was posted (and quickly deleted), Oded Ran, Head of Consumer Marketing, Windows Phone, UK, basically announced that Mac users will be able to use Zune on their computers with "more details soon" as a tease.

Offering such compatibility between Macs and Windows Phone 7 is important to take the fight to Apple, we suppose, though it's unclear how many Apple fans will really ditch their iTunes/iPhone mini-closed empire for the "enemy's offerings". In that sense, this move is probably more symbolic than strategic in the long run, but it's one of those things that is very symbolic. Plus we know there has to be a few Apple fans who want Windows Phone 7, right?

Update: Evidently Microsoft decided to reveal a little bit more stating "Later in 2010 Microsoft will make a public beta available of a tool that allows Windows Phone 7 to sync select content with Mac computers."

Update 2: And it's not Zune software, according to Thurrott, but a way for Mac users to sync content to their devices. Ah, the finer differences in life.

[via Neowin.net & Engadget]

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