Y’know, before that Facebook thing started getting big, there was a fledgling music startup by a popular software company called Zune. Within a year, it launched Social with the ability to build up a list of friends and share what you’re playing with them. Sound familiar? That’s because Facebook unveiled its new Music service that does much the same thing, including the ability to have friends listen with you in real-time. To show off this new feature, Zuckerberg showed off a new partnership with Spotify, which we’ve liked to various degrees, but it represents a huge step forward in sharing music. So while the Zune Social could’ve been all that and a bag of chips, Microsoft has essentially abandoned it as well as the brand in its virtual entirety and what a damn waste for how powerful this could’ve been for them.
To understand the Zune user’s frustration, we have to see how Microsoft’s treated it over the past few years. The Zune Pass is still my favorite subscription music service around today, but Microsoft stopped production of the Zune PMP in its entirety with the launch of its magnificent Zune HD hardware, shifting their focus to Windows Phone hardware, which has a Zune player sewn into its core. But all in all, that’s Microsoft’s current commitment to the platform.
- In 2008, Microsoft rebranded the Xbox movie rental tab as Zune Movies, in line with the service they had providing on Zune for some time. As of now, it’s merely a branding.
- Last year, Microsoft added Zune-powered music results to Bing, so that when using their distant-second search service, you could listen to full albums on the service. They didn’t promote it and no one knows about it.
- Windows Phone has yet to gain much traction, so obviously they have no space to leverage Zune as a premier music service. Some day they might, but their incredibly slow hardware rollout in annual waves around major updates is… disappointing.