zune pass

Microsoft is continuing their phased closure of the Zune Marketplace, which has been replaced with Xbox Music and Video. The latest change involves users not being able to purchase music or video through the service starting as early as August 22nd. For that reason, Microsoft is encouraging you to spend any Microsoft Point balances before that date.

The move appears to be a combination of Microsoft wanting to move away from Zune, a necessary decision if they want to support only Xbox Music and Video, and the retirement of the MS Points system, which is being replaced by cash across their entire ecosystem.

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Sometimes technology is a collection of circuitry and silicon, sometimes though – it is a magical moment full of feelings and memories. The best experiences are born when technology transcends our knowledge and connects us with what we love. British science fiction writer and futurist, Arthur C. Clarke, once said:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Microsoft has been around for a long time and for those of us who live off of the technology they provide, some of the memories will never seep away.

In 2007, the company released a four minute commercial that has come to be known as “Your Digital Lifestyle”. The ad highlighted the then current hi-tech Microsoft products of the time and how one green shirted hipster used them to party the night away. The commercial is set to a cover of Ash’s Girl from Mars by Canadian group, Magneta Lane.

Buckle up, because we are going on a field trip to six years ago; along the way, we are going to jam with our green shirted friend and revisit some of our past Microsoft technology goodies. Windows Vista will probably be seen along the way, but there will be plenty of other experiences to combat that bad flavor.

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Microsoft has fired out an email introducing consumers to the Xbox Music Pass, which was previously branded the Zune Pass. The subscription model opens up an impressive catalogue of music that's available for streaming, download and purchase (should one wish to cancel the subscription but retain music tracks). We've previously expected the company to launch the rebranded streaming service as successor.

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Update: And just like that our Xbox Music app updated and is now auto-importing Zune Pass content. So it works going forward, but Xbox Music does not DRM sync back to Zune--yet.

Eck. Looks like there’s going to be a headache for some of us as we upgrade and merge to Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8) regarding music. Turns out, Zune Pass music doesn't like to import into Xbox Music and vice versa.

The problem is thus: when you open Xbox Music on a Windows 8 PC, it won’t recognize your Zune Pass content, which for some of you could be quite substantial.  There is supposedly a work-around that involves creating a playlist in Zune Desktop of just your Pass music and then using Xbox Music to import that, resulting in a re-downloading of your music.  You can try that via this tutorial at Bibble-it.com.

For us however we were able to get the playlist into our Xbox Music where it played but we couldn’t import the actual albums/songs, leaving us unsatisfied.

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If you’re a current Zune Pass subscriber, you may want to check your email. Microsoft has just sent out the Xbox Music update details for those who are using Zune Pass and what’s more, they’re throwing in a 1,000 MS Points to celebrate.

Those points (worth $12.50 or an average album) can be used “on any of the music, video, or game content on Xbox LIVE”. (Wait, we’re still calling it Xbox LIVE?)

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Looks like the same old Zune Pass to us

Engadget managed to get their hands on some Xbox Music Pass screens from the Xbox 360 beta program.

The images supposedly reveal the new pricing program and feature set though to our eyes, we’re not actually seeing anything different here besides a little more control over content. In the images, clearly from the UK, we can see the pricing of £8.99 ($15) for a month, while £89.90 ($146).

But does that carry over to the US? We have a few screenshots too sent in to us and the US pricing is exactly the same as the current Zune Pass: $9.99 a month or $99 a year, masking the implied price jump here.

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We just received our email notification from Microsoft about the soon-to-happen changeover from Zune Pass/Zune Music to Xbox Music. While most of the features seem to remain, including being locked in your $10 or $15 a month subscriptions (the latter for old school users), there are some significant changes that we’re not exactly too excited about.

The changes are due to rollout August 31st, leaving little time to adjust to those new adjustments. The features that we will be losing in a few days are the following...

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The Nokia Lumia 710 is on offer at Vodafone UK for £150, accompanied by a 6-month Zune Pass. The Windows Phone was made available on both Vodafone and Three earlier last month for £199 (though Vodafone reportedly dropped the price to £150 soon after). The Lumia 710 packs a 1.4 Ghz processor, 3.7" screen, 5MP camera, 8GB storage and sports a handful of pre-loaded Nokia apps.

Hurry up should the offer intrigue you as it ends on March 31st. Ignore the 3/5 rating as this was left by a single Android-orientated reviewer who complained about the lack of storage for music lovers (Zune Pass / Nokia Music anyone?).

Source: Vodafone UK, thanks Vicky for the heads up!

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With the outlook on Zune (as a service) being fairly bleak, it's somewhat positive to hear rumours of Microsoft engaging with the record labels regarding a potential new music service - or an upgrade to the existing. While the Zune Pass service as a whole is pretty feature rich with download and offline playback functionality, it hasn't been actively adopted as the software giant had hoped, which is largely due to the company not pushing the service out hard enough and market competition.

Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox console all sport Zune access to a certain extent, but with Windows 8 just around the corner, plans for better multi-platform integration and a more useful (yet user-friendly) service would please many. According to the report over at CNET, HTC and Nokia are in talks with the software giant to partner in the deal. It's not known what the new service would bring to the table, but one would suspect a move towards the likes of Spotify, and possibly place the new music service under the Xbox LIVE branding.

It would be interesting to see an iTunes Match-like feature introduced where subscribers could upload their entire music collection, then stream it over the air to a Live ID associated PC, Xbox and Windows Phone. Microsoft is looking to have the new music service up and running this coming summer. Would you like to see anything altered/introduced? Let us know in the comments.

Source: CNET

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We're really starting to hate the fact that there are barely any Microsoft Stores around as they keeping having some great deals. The latest promotion runs from now till February 14th (that'd be Valentine's Day for you Forever Aloners out there) and involves getting one year of Zune Pass for free with the purchase of a new Windows Phone.

At $10 a month that's about a $120 value and if you're in the States, Zune Pass is actually worth it. So keep that in mind when shopping around for the special gift in the coming weeks.

Thanks, Derek, for the photo

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Get missing Zune Pass features in Australia now

While the full-force of the Australian Zune Pass still needs to launch tomorrow, bits and pieces of it are now available, including being able to sign up. However, if you want all the good stuff now, Chris Walsh from ChevronWP7 (and Eric Lawrence's Fiddler app) have your back.

In a post on his blog, Walsh details a relatively easy method by which you can trick the Zune Servers and get access via the Zune Desktop to those "missing features".

Looks like a fun way to kill fifteen minutes and get the good stuff now. Read more at Chris Walsh's blog here.

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Zune Pass now available in Australia

It was announced just a few weeks ago that Zune Pass was finally coming to Australia. Then we got wind of a few more details from WPDownUnder what exactly it would and wouldn't have to offer (e.g. no podcast support, lame).

The date to launch was November 16th, that day is upon us and according to Chris Walsh, it's now available.

So, to our Aussie friends--you down with the Zune Pass?

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We touched on Microsoft announcing the news that Australia will be getting the Zune Pass on November 16th, but new details have come to light about what will (and wont be) present and included in the subscription. With the announcement being made by Microsoft, WPDownUnder contacted the software giant for clarification on features tied to the Zune Pass:

  • Artist biographies won't be present. Background are will be available but only for international artists, not local ones.
  • Individual tracks and album purchases will be made possible by MS points or an attached credit card.
  • Australia will not be getting Zune podcast support.
  • Zune Pass will work with Australians who own an Australia-only Live ID.
  • Australian Zune HD owners will not be able to view (or download) free apps and games on the app Marketplace.

With the Zune Pass Australian launch just around the corner, more information is likely to come to light in the coming days. WPDownUnder is set to interview a local Microsoft representative to hopefully extract more information surrounding the release of the Zune Pass.

Source: WPDownUnder

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Zune Pass headed down under

After months of testing, Zune Pass is heading to Australia. Along with voice control for Kinect, Microsoft announced the release of the Zune Pass subscription service during a press event in Sydney.

The Zune Music Pass in Australia will run $11.99 a month and give subscribers unlimited listening capacity on their Zune software, Xbox console and Windows Phones. The Zune Pass will give Australian users access to around 11 million songs at launch.

The Zune Pass is slated for availability in the Australian market on November 16th.

via: Gizmodo.au

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Oh this is not something we want to post as this is just bad, bad bad. Evidently, on September 13th Microsoft is reducing the number of devices upon which you can sync with the Zune music service from 6 (3 computers and 3 devices) to just 4 (at least 1 computer and any combo of 3 PCs and devices). You'll also need to download at least one new song to each device to continue using the service.

We're none to pleased with these changes but have a feeling it has something to do with licensing from the music companies, reduction in costs to those licenses and perhaps trying to reduce "sharing" of Zune passes. Regadless, that's just lame. Users are reportedly being sent emails with the following information and you don't have a choice to the change outside of cancelling your subscription.

Update: LiveSide is reporting (via EnConnected) that this is only for Europe and not the US, where as of now, we will still be able to sync to 6 devices. This should ease over tensions between our Euro and US readers /sarcasm.

Thanks, Lee T., for the images and info!; see also My Microsoft Life

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Microsoft testing Zune in Australia

It seems Australia are in line for some Zune improvements. The Mango 4.8 Zune client displays the music tab when locality is set to Australia and/or an Australian Live ID is used. What's more interesting is that while there's only a small selection of songs and albums available, it does reveal a proposed pricing scheme (using Microsoft Points).

Songs will set music lovers back 129 points (AUD$2.13) and albums seem to be priced per song, capped at 1299 points (AUD$21.43). As an extra bonus, Microsoft has also reportedly enabled podcasts too. These are positive signs for the expanding Zune service in Australia accompanying Windows Phone Mango and the Zune Pass.

Source: iStartedSomething

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Win two 3-month Zune subscriptions

The Zune team are giving away two three month Zune Pass subscriptions to two lucky winners (so that's 6 months worth of Zune goodness each), which can be used on your Windows Phone 7 handset. To be eligible for the tweepstake, you must have a Twitter account (who doesn't these days?) and be over the age of 14, living in the US.

Entering the competition is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (no, really):

  1. Follow @ZuneSupport and visit the tweepstake page.
  2. Tweet the phrase found at the top of the page.
  3. Submit all required information in the survey. Done!

For more information (and to enter), check out the tweepstake page. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the guidelines.

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Microsoft's Zune Pass Survey (Updated)

In the Redmond, WA Area? Have two hours to kill? If so, Microsoft User Research is looking for Zune Pass users to participate in a two hour study. The study will take place on Microsoft’s Redmond campus with participants offered a choice of new Microsoft software, hardware or games from a list of our current most popular titles.

Sound interesting? To sign up for the survey just send the following information to uccoord@microsoft.com with “Zune” in the title:

  • Name/Phone Number
  • Job/Company
  • Are you a monthly subscriber to Zune Pass?
  • How frequently do you watch movies online on your computer/console (Hulu, Netflix, Zune, etc.)?
  • How often do you make online purchases with a debit or credit card?

The study is between 3:30-6:30pm. Microsoft hopes to use the feedback and opinions for what they are describing as the next generation of Microsoft services and products.

UPDATE: Microsoft has pushed the date of the survey back and extended the hours.  The new date and time for the Zune Pass Survey is July 8th from 8:00am until 6:30pm PDT.  You still need to be in Redmond to participate but at least now you've got a little time to make the trek.  Thanks Eli for the update!

Source: Facebook

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Having bought my partner (who resides in Turkey) the HTC Trophy as she's smart and didn't want the iPhone or limited Android devices available (Turkey is horrible for smartphones, had to buy the Trophy here in the UK), I know second hand how frustrating it is for someone to use services on their WP7 outside supported countries. She gets by with Xbox Live and the Marketplace working fine with my bank card on file, but we've had to use workarounds and more to get the base line functionality working.

While we haven't attempted to get Zune Pass working with OTA music streaming, it seems there are plans for services to be moved beyond the US and UK so hopefully everything should work when Microsoft enhance their coverage (doubtful Turkey will be included). Joe Belfiore (Corporate Vice President of WP) mentioned, while enjoying the Mango Twitter integration, that there are plans in the works to expand the Zune services along with speech and more. This would definitely be a step in the right direction, especially for countries that don't have the services to cater for smartphones. 

We will keep an eye on the Windows Phone Team blog for more detail when released.

Source: Twitter, via: 1800 PocketPC

Update: Andrew Birch has posted a table which will be updated as country support is updated, very handy to bookmark and keep an eye on it!

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Eck, there's just rumor upon rumor tonight. This one is from MS_Nerd again, who at least has a solid track record. In a few new tweets, he drops some bombshells:

  1. 3 "new" hardware partners for Windows Phone to be announced
  2. The full Mango wave will launch with ff-cams (front-facing cameras)
  3. Zune Pass will slowly be merged with Xbox Live Gold, adding more 3rd-party content to the subscription (like ESPN).

The first one seems like a nice middle ground between "we'll see new phones tomorrow" and the "we won't camp". Perhaps we'll just hear (or even see) some new devices but from new OEMs (Acer, Asus and ?). The second also seems plausible--heck Microsoft did just buy Skype, it makes sense they'd want to bullet-proof their upcoming phones once they figure out how to integrate "Microsoft Skype" into our OS.

Finally, the third fits in with all the Zune-being-re branded/changed rumors. We suppose it even makes sense to merge the two as they are very similar, no? As Xbox and Zune services grow tighter, it'd make sense to merge those ecosystems. Plus, you know, perhaps MS Points can finally buy music (on the go) or apps, eh?

Source: @MS_Nerd 1 and 2

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