Zune Oddities… Also 2.3 Firmware Upgrade

Microsoft seems to have been busy providing point upgrade releases since they released the Zune 2.0 firmware upgrade a few months ago with the introduction of the 2nd generation of Zune devices. The 2.3 upgrade came out in mid-December. But, I only recently plugged in my 1st generation Zune to the PC to upgrade it. I’m not really sure what the upgrade since I don’t see release notes area on the Zune.net Support page.

I wanted to note a couple of Zune oddities (some good, some not so good) that are probably NOT related to the upgrade though.

Video files for the iPod need to be more-or-less prepared to meet the iPod’s supported video formats (screen size, etc.). The iPod wouldn’t, for example, deal with the MacBreak video podcast high def video format. So, I was surprised to see that the Zune Podcast webpage provided the CommandN video podcast in the H.264 video format that, I think, even the iPod doesn’t accept. I had forgotten that the Zune attempts to convert video files into a format it can accept during the sync process. This conversion process is very very flow. I think it took something like a half-hour to convert the three CommandN video podcast files.

I mentioned recently that I tried out the Amazon MP3 DRM-free service by buying an EP release (6 songs). The Zune PC software saw it fine but only synced 5 of the 6 files to the Zune. Like the awful Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Mobile smartphones, the Zune software provides no options to try to fix problems. In its effort to be user friendly, both the WMDC and Zune software are actually user hostile. I tried to force an update by moving the missing MP3 file to another directly, update the Zune client’s file sync with the hard disk, move the MP3 file back to its original director, and then force a sync again. This time the file appeared, BUT a file that had synced with the Zune originally disappeared. Weird… Microsoft really needs to take a look at iTunes on the Mac.

That said, the Zune 2.x firmware is an improvement on the Zune device itself. I’ll be playing with it a bit more.