Microsoft’s Zune insanity

“There’s an old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That being the case, Microsoft reminds me of a manic-depressive on the ‘up’ end of the cycle. It runs around like a madman, pushing its latest idea as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then when it doesn’t quite turn out that way, it quietly drops the thing and moves on to their next obsession,” AdamaDBrown writes for Brighthand.

AdamaDBrown writes, “The latest incarnation of this bizarre behavior is the ‘Zune,’ a kind of handheld-meets-iPod device with a 30 GB hard drive and Wi-Fi. Much ado has been made of it, and it’s expected competition with the iPod, but there’s a question that has to be asked: what does the Zune actually do to be worth such hype?

“If you can answer that, you know something I don’t. As far as I can tell, the Zune isn’t particularly compelling in terms of hardware, software, or capabilities. But that’s not stopping Microsoft from putting together a fabulously expensive PR campaign to tell people that the Zune is so wonderful that they have to have one, even if nobody knows what it does. Of course, that’s not exactly a new tactic for Microsoft,” AdamaDBrown writes.

“Microsoft’s line of cure-all miracle products goes back a long, long way. Before the Zune, it was the Origami. Before that, it was PlaysForSure, the Windows Smartphone, tablet PCs, airpanels — remember those? — network PCs, Microsoft Reader, and a dozen other ideas which they could have easily realized were in need of polishing if they just sat down for a minute and thought about it,” AdamaDBrown writes.

“Zune is incompatible with the much-hyped Microsoft DRM initiative called ‘PlaysForSure.’ While they’re both Windows Media, Zune music won’t work on PFS devices, and PFS music won’t work on the Zune. So not only did Microsoft just royally screw everyone who bought music using PlaysForSure on the guarantee that it would be usable on many different devices, but they further screwed every company that built a PFS capable device,” AdamaDBrown writes.

“Which brings me to the other fatal flaw in Microsoft’s rapid-turnover development plans: nobody can trust them. Microsoft’s initiatives have the shelf life of ice cubes in Baja,” AdamaDBrown writes. “It’s deeply ironic that one of the biggest companies in the tech sector is so completely unable to figure out where it’s going, or to support its own products. Perhaps, having a guaranteed revenue stream from their near-monopoly on OS sales, Microsoft has lost the ability to actually design and market a competitive product. But either way, they’ve repeatedly demonstrated that they’re unable or unwilling to extend their attention span beyond two weeks, which is a pity. Because until they do, the Zune and all the other toys like it are only as good as the commitment behind them.”

More in the full article here.

Related articles:
The Microsoft Zune 1.0 dud – September 20, 2006
Microsoft’s underwhelming Zune a ‘viral DRM’ device – September 18, 2006
SanDisk teams with RealNetworks against new common foe: Microsoft Zune – September 18, 2006
Creative does Apple’s dirty work by immediately attacking Microsoft’s Zune – September 17, 2006
Motley Fool’s Jayson: Microsoft’s ‘just plain ugly’ Zune a meager offering, not an iPod killer – September 15, 2006
What’s in a name? ‘Zune’ a French-Canadian euphemism for penis or vagina – September 15, 2006
Crave at CNET: ‘Microsoft Zune, all the excitement that brown can bring’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune underwhelms – September 15, 2006
Enderle: Microsoft Zune ‘a design mistake’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft hypocrisy exposed with Zune: What ever happened to ‘choice?’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune with fake scroll wheel ‘hardly an Apple iPod killer’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune won’t spoil Apple’s biggest iPod Christmas ever – September 14, 2006
Microsoft unveils Zune 30GB player, Zune Marketplace; declines to disclose prices – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft’s Zune an ‘underwhelming’ repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat; no threat to Apple iPod – August 30, 2006
Microsoft confirms brick-like Zune to be made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft Zune is chunky brick made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft to spend hundreds of millions, several years on Zune trying to catch Apple iPod+iTunes – July 27, 2006
Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006


  1. “Microsoft has lost the ability to actually design and market a competitive product.”

    Yes, they lost that ability long ago.

    Every day, I have the opportunity to educate one more person about why buying a new computer with Windows isn’t going to solve problems that they’ve been having with their current computer. Insanity indeed.

  2. Actually, I almost forget. The upcoming interface for Office 2007 does have some intuitive design approaches. Oh, what do they call it? The “Ribbon”.. a solution to the growing number of menus and toolbars… it replaces both with an elegant, friendly layout, with “panels” that come-and-go as their needed… very well designed.

  3. One of the best summaries of the Microsoft mentality I think I have ever read.

    If it wasn’t for the total lack of concern for the laws of the land, Microsoft wouldn’t have the OS marketshare they have today.

    Oh, did you see the latest OS marketshare report? Windows share, of all flavors, is down 1.8% since last September.

    It’ll be down even more come January.

  4. ok

    a moment of truth

    all of this was understood from the beginning

    people if you dont understand that Bill Gates sold the world out for a nick el then you are lost

    Steve, thank you

    the rest is drama

    I dont need a computer

    Bill charity will only soften your crash

    mmmm…….. for those who understand os eleven is here

    for those who do not

    comand alt delete

    that is the ?




  5. As a manic depressive myself don’t underestimate the power of mania. Many wonderful things throughout history have been created by people who were apparantly manic at the time.

    The Zune however will not be one of them. I mean come on it’s the same thing as the iPod at half the capacity. WiFi big deal if you cant use it properly. I want to be able to walk into a department store and have every stereo in the joint play whatever I want via my (future) iPod.

  6. Speaking of “Zune-sanity,” is Microsoft giving each employee working on Zune a blog: Zuneinsider, Zunester, Zuneguy, etc? Shouldn’t they be working on the product instead of blogging about it.

    Anyways, I read the complete linked article. Good one, and completely right. Microsoft is like the kid who inherits a fortune, and can’t focus on anything the rest of his/her life because he/she does not have to.

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