USA Today’s Baig: Microsoft Zune is no Apple iPod

“Three things to know right away about the Zune media player Microsoft starts selling Tuesday: It is no iPod. It would have been more appealing with fewer digital rights restrictions. It will not ‘play for sure,'” Edward C. Baig reports for USA Today.

Baig reports, “The latter refers to the PlaysForSure logo initiative Microsoft launched a couple of years ago. PlaysForSure was supposed to guarantee that certain digital devices would be compatible with music stores such as Napster and Urge… Songs bought from PlaysForSure stores will not play on Zune. Nor can you connect other devices to the Zune store. Microsoft insists it is not abandoning PlaysForSure, but that’s little solace to consumers who can’t use music purchased on Napster, Rhapsody, Urge or elsewhere.”

MacDailyNews Take: So, pigeons, load up on those Zuned tracks with no fear of future abandonment at the whim of Microsoft. They fooled you once, are you going let them zune you by fooling you twice?

George Ou, TechRepublic’s Technical Director, is having a conniption fit over this on his ZDNet blog. Ou writes, “Microsoft’s own Channel 9 blog has coined the term ‘Plays for Maybe’ (via David Berlind’s blog) in a brutally honest way asking:”

I really don’t get how the biggest software co. in the world – sets up a huge network of partners to trumpet their own technology: “plays for sure” – then when it itself enters the market – refuses to use it.

Ou writes, “Here is a message to Microsoft: WHAT ARE YOU THINKING! I bought a ‘Plays for Sure’ device and I bought and rented music for it and now you’re telling me it was all a joke. Well this has forced me to come to these two conclusions if you continue this course.”

• Stop buying all Plays for Sure devices and music
• Don’t buy Zune because you’ve splintered your own market

“Wake up before it’s too late,” Ou advises Microsoft.

It already is too late, George. Way too late.

Back to Baig, who writes, “Microsoft made another curious choice. Instead of letting you pay, say, 99 cents a tune as with iTunes, you must use a confusing Microsoft Points currency system (also used with Xbox 360) to buy tracks in Zune. An individual ditty fetches 79 Microsoft Points in the Marketplace, which comes to, roughly, um, 99 cents.”

“I kept trying to roll my thumb across Zune’s four-way (up-down/left-right) directional pad, which looks like a scroll wheel but isn’t,” Baig explains. “Zune has built-in Wi-Fi that lets you send or receive songs from other Zune pals, within about a 30-foot range… The person you send a song to can listen just three times over three days, because, Microsoft says, ‘It’s what the labels are comfortable with.'”

Baig concludes, “Zune shows promise. But I’d like to see more offerings in the store, and less stringent wireless restrictions. And Microsoft should rethink the silly points system. For now, I’m sticking with iPod.”

Full article here.
This is actually the most charitable independent review of Zune that we’ve seen to date and, although Baig seems at times to be trying really hard, it still isn’t a very positive review at all. Zune is shaping up to be this year’s lump of coal (or lump of something) for Christmas. Coupled with the other reviews we’ve seen (see below), it looks like Microsoft’s Zune is DOA without Apple having to lift a finger.

Related articles:
Forbes: Microsoft’s Zune stinks; like ‘Microsoft Bob,’ only more embarrassing – November 09, 2006
NY Times’ Pogue: Zune should come in green to match Microsoft’s iPod envy – November 09, 2006
Mossberg: MS Zune has ‘too many compromises, missing features’ vs. ‘thin, sleek, elegant’ Apple iPod – November 09, 2006
Microsoft to pay Universal for every Zune sold – November 09, 2006
Analysts: Microsoft Zune may end up being a flop – November 08, 2006
Are 58% of iPod owners really thinking of a Zune switch? – November 08, 2006
Survey: 58% of iPod owners planning another MP3 player purchase will consider Microsoft’s Zune – November 01, 2006
Zune is from Microsoft, but Microsoft doesn’t want anybody to know about it – November 07, 2006
Microsoft Zune to be US-only, no firm plans to launch anywhere else globally – November 03, 2006
Five Microsoft Zune TV commercials – November 02, 2006
JupiterResearch: Apple’s iPod will dominate for foreseeable future; Microsoft’s Zune insignificant – October 25, 2006
Ellen DeGeneres Show gives away Microsoft Zunes, studio audience goes berserk – October 23, 2006
More Microsoft Zune myths explored – October 20, 2006
Five more Microsoft Zune myths – October 18, 2006
Microsoft Zune intensifies chaos in Apple iPod+iTunes also-ran market – October 16, 2006
Newsweek Q&A: Apple CEO Steve Jobs discusses iPod’s impact, Microsoft’s Zune, and more – October 15, 2006
Microsoft’s Ballmer: Zune device not money loser, wishes Apple’s 30GB iPod was $299 instead of $249 – October 11, 2006
Microsoft’s consumer electronics track record: long string of failures – October 11, 2006 founder: ‘Zune will be an expensive failure for Microsoft because consumers aren’t stupid’ – October 06, 2006
Microsoft fails to secure key Zune domains – October 04, 2006
Microsoft rigs Zune with tricky pricing and proprietary money schemes – October 03, 2006
Why Microsoft’s Zune won’t kill Apple’s iPod – October 03, 2006
10 Apple iPod vs. Microsoft Zune myths – October 02, 2006
Analyst: Zune could lead to ‘civil war’ between Microsoft and Windows Media partners – September 29, 2006
Thurrott on Microsoft’s Zune: ‘The makings of a disaster, what the heck are these people thinking?’ – September 29, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune’s as good as dead on arrival – September 28, 2006
Microsoft sets 30GB Zune price at $249.99 – September 28, 2006
How Microsoft’s Zune can kill Apple’s iPod – September 21, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune insanity – September 21, 2006
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 sell single Zune model this fall, rumors of Wi-Fi capability were greatly exaggerated – August 10, 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. MS is going to pour (waste) millions into the marketing, including massive displays in stores likes Wal-Mart and Target. Many grandparents are going to disappoint their grand kids when they get them a zune this holiday season. Look for more returns in the 1st qtr of 07 than sales in that same quarter.

  2. The Microsoft Points system for buying songs is a cynical scheme that involves users giving Microsoft an interest free loan. 79 points = 99 cents? Of course, Microsoft insures you can’t just buy 79 points at a time. You have to buy round number like 100 or 500 points.

    So say you have 100 points. You buy a song. Now you have 21 points left over, that can’t be used for anything. But you still paid for it. Where did that money go? Microsoft is holding it for you, in their own interest-bearing account, until you find an opportunity to accumulate enough points to buy another song again in the future.

    The idea is the multiple the monetary value of leftover points by millions, and suddenly Microsoft is making a lot of interest on the backs of consumers, who are duped into giving Microsoft an interest-free loan.

  3. They have no respect for their customers. The points system is an attempt to bamboozle the dippy. Given the current state of math skills for many US teens, they may be on to something.

  4. NewType Do you want something even more insideous?

    MS is only selling the ZUNE points in $5 increments. What this boils down to is that you will be giving MS a loan until you spend and use 79,000 points, (1000 songs) assuming 79 pts = 1 song = .99 cents.

    That’s $990.00!!!! until M$ is no longer holding your money.

    That is the crossover point between $5 increments, and .99 cents!


    I usually dont use profanity, but FSCK THEM.


  5. I was reading the comments of a negative Zune review and the MS supporters were all like, “anyone can figure the point system out. If you’re too stupid to do it then you’re stupid.” Of course, this misses the point entirely: why create a needless middle component? Of course it is not diffcult to figure out, but why have to do it in the first place. Pinching my nose every time I walk through a door is easy to do, but I still would not want to have to do it. I’m sure all the MS supporters have made spreadsheets indicating the best price points to buy. After all, what says ease of use like needing to do conversions every time you buy something? You get all the fun of using US dollars in Europe without any of the hassle of travel! WOO. HOO.

    I also do not like the fact that you MUST use this overpay system. To be fair, I believe the gift cards and gift certiicates for iTS also have the residual pennies thing. However, you are not required to use this system, unlike the Zune marketplace (that oddly reminds me of Diablo II).

    I believe this is called a scheme, in the worst sense of the word.


    It is actually half the above amount, or $495.00 (I dont know why I screwed that up.)

    So basically M$ gets to keep some portion of your money until you spend at least $495.00 at their ZUNE store. That is 500 songs at 39,500 points.


  7. Shareholders of MS need a class action taking MS for all the wasted millions and at the very least demand a change of management.

    I’ll bet you that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer won’t be seen for a number of weeks.

  8. This guy would actually consider a Zune over an iPod? He better read what he writes is all I can say. The iPod is 100% better and the Zune wireless feature is a real joke and useless. Total waste of money.

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