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Zune wireless: worthless (for now)

Ryan Block, @ryan
10.02.06
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So throughout this whole Zune launch thing the whole lot of us have been playing cat and mouse with Microsoft on the finer points. Will it or won't it be built on PlaysForSure or some variant? How will it recognize copyrighted vs. creative commons content without opening up piracy loopholes? And perhaps most importantly: how will the wireless work? Well, it turns out that a Zune employee by the name of David Caulton thought it'd be worth putting together a cogent explanation of what the Zune wireless connection can and can't do.

You can:

  • Can search for and find other Zunes nearby.
  • Can send songs / albums for the 3 x 3 trial. Songs past the three days / listens are deleted at next sync, but catalogued on your PC for record-keeping should you want to purchase them later. No word on whether Microsoft is going to keep track of which files are traded.
  • You can send and receive image files for "unlimited viewing." (Oh, so copyrighted images aren't worth DRMing?)
You can't:
  • Connect to the internet.
  • Download songs directly from the Zune store via WiFi.
  • Sync to your computer via WiFi.
Sorry Microsoft, we think you have it backward. The killer app of having wireless in a portable media device isn't sharing DRMed files -- it's downloading music from a near infinitely large library no matter where you're at. That's why the MusicGremlin was and is so freaking cool. All the music, none of the bother with PCs. So to find out the Zune won't even match that device in terms of use for wireless is a little disappointing, to say the least. Granted this above is with regard to the feature list for launch (and Microsoft doesn't claim the Zune is feature-complete), so we can probably assume that we'll be expected to hold out for later Zune firmware releases where actually useful wireless capabilities will be added.

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