As first reported by LiveSide, Microsoft has begun offering the Zune Pass subscription service to customers in the U.K. The Zune devices have never been sold outside North America, so there hasn't been much reason to offer the related subscription service, which offers unlimited streams and temporary downloads plus 10 permanent downloads a month. But the Windows Phone 7 software has the Zune HD's functionality built in, and with that phone platform slated to launch worldwide later this year, it makes sense for Microsoft to begin testing it now.
I was able to confirm the report for … Read more
This week, at Microsoft's annual conference for the partners who sell most of the company's products, Microsoft once again showed off its upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform and made a couple of interesting announcements that got me thinking. Microsoft has all the pieces in place to create the ultimate cloud-based music service for Windows Phone 7. All it has to do is stitch them together.
First, Microsoft confirmed that Windows Phone 7 devices, like the last couple generations of Zune players, will be able to sync music, video, and large images with a user's PC over a … Read more
Microsoft's Windows business faces a real threat from Apple's iPad and the impending crop of similar touch-screen devices running Android, Web OS, and other lightweight mobile operating systems. Windows will remain relevant for years to come, but if even 10 percent of potential laptop or Netbook buyers choose an iPad or other competitor instead, that cuts more than a billion dollars out of Microsoft's largest and most profitable business.
That's right: Microsoft now earns more than $10 billion in profit--not revenue, profit--from the Windows desktop operating system every year.
What's Microsoft's answer? At a … Read more
I'm a big proponent of cloud-based music services for mobile devices. I struggle figuring out which 500 songs I want on my 8GB iPhone at any given time, and the problem gets worse as as I download more apps. So it's gratifying to see an explosion of mobile music services in the last six months. Start-ups and established companies alike seem to believe that the current model, where users transfer songs from a computer to their phone using a wired connection, is not long for this world. Instead, these companies are coming up with various ways to dispense … Read more
commentary On Tuesday evening, Microsoft announced the integration of playable songs into Bing search results. At the time, when you clicked the play button by each song result, the pop-up window for the player said that this feature was "coming soon." I blogged about it anyway, relying on a forthcoming Microsoft blog post that said the feature was available "now."
Microsoft on Tuesday introduced the latest update to its plucky come-from-behind search engine, Bing, offering specialized results for music, TV, movies, and games. (CNET's Ina Fried has the full details.)
On the music front, Bing now offers playable search results: users can play a full-length version of each song once, and 30-second samples after that. The feature is similar to what Google introduced in October, provided by partner iLike. (Google also had a partnership with Lala, but Apple acquired that company in December and discontinued its online music-streaming service in May.)
If you like the song, you can then … Read more
Microsoft's Zune music service is finally on its way to the Xbox 360. Announced today at E3 2010, a catalog of 7 million Zune Marketplace songs will be available for streaming on the Xbox 360 later this year, complementing existing Zune movie, TV, and music video content.
As shown during the E3 210 on-stage demo, Zune content will be compatible with the new hands-free Kinect accessory (formally known as project Natal), allowing users to navigate menus and control playback using their hands, as well as voice commands. The Kinect is not required, though, as users can still use the … Read more
Starting this summer, United Airlines will include 21 Zune music channels as an in-flight listening option. Passengers will be able to listen for free by plugging compatible headphones into their armrest and dialing in the channel of their choice.
The tunes for United flights will be pulled directly from Microsoft's existing roster of Zune Pass subscription music channels, including options for classic rock, contemporary pop, opera, electronica, piano jazz, and others. Channels will be offered commercial-free on both domestic and international flights, with each channel loaded with 3 hours of unique programming.
The partnership counts as a small, yet … Read more
After spending the last few years focusing on building a credible search engine and fixing Windows, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is now turning his eye, Sauron-like, toward Microsoft's consumer products.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that two longtime leaders in its Entertainment and Devices Division, President Robbie Bach and Chief Technical Officer J Allard, are stepping down. Although both executives are best known as the public faces of the Xbox, they also bear some responsibility for the Zune, Microsoft's portable media player and associated software and services. Bach was assigned to fix Microsoft's digital-media strategy in the mid-2000s, … Read more