Zune interface blown-out and skinned | iLounge Backstage


Zune interface blown-out and skinned

So you read our last Zune interface update on Backstage, and later saw most of the details confirmed by Gizmodo. But then you saw Microsoft’s official Zune Insider blog, where a company employee told readers, “Basically, I wouldn’t draw conclusions about Zune based on what you see in those places. Unless you see it in this blog or another official source, then just take it w/ a grain of salt.”

Great stuff - if it doesn’t come from Microsoft, you can’t trust it. Without dwelling on the wisdom of that particular suggestion, here’s a bunch more stuff you can choose to take “w/ a grain of salt,” courtesy of an anonymous tipster: the remainder of the details on the Zune’s user interface, with some nifty “not quite screenshot, but better than hand-sketch” artwork that explains pretty much how the whole thing works and looks. Since most of the UI is really plain - white text on a black background sort of stuff, except the background can be skinned with full-color artwork - these artists’ representations only highlight a few key points from the menus.

From what we know, Zune’s current top-level menu contains six plain text choices: Music, Videos, Pictures, Community, Radio, and Settings. They’re presented almost identically to the format seen above, which depicts the Settings menu.


Music presents you with a top-of-screen horizontal bar that scrolls endlessly through Albums, Artists, Playlists, Songs, and Genres; you use the unit’s left and right buttons to scroll. In every case except Albums, a vertical text-format list appears beneath the view bar (above); Albums uses album art thumbnails. As previously noted, the current alphabet letter appears in a big font to let you know where you are within the list.


This shows what the Zune’s equivalent of the Now Playing screen looks like. Album art is huge and detailed, with an MTV-style text display of track, artist, and album details at the screen’s bottom.


Videos presents you with a top-of-screen horizontal bar that includes options such as “all videos,” “all TV shows,” and other categories. Videos appear as icon and two-line items, as they might in Microsoft’s Windows OS, and Zune automatically flips them to display either in horizontal widescreen (16:9) or vertical fullscreen (4:3) mode based on their dimensions. Pictures has a horizontal top bar with “view by date” and “view by folder.” Radio works as previously noted - left and right controls let you choose the station in locally appropriate tuning increments (say, .2 for North America), with a graphical display that shows the radio dial blurring as you move rapidly through stations. As with Apple’s iPod Radio Remote, RDS is supported for on-screen display of artist and song title data from stations that provide this data. It’s unclear whether you can “capture” (record) radio broadcasts with Zune, but you can add and delete presets, and turn a station seek feature on and off.

Alongside Radio, which was apparently previously found in a sub-menu called Extras, is Community - the code-word for Zune’s wireless music-sharing initiative. Here, there’s a top bar with choices “me” (describe yourself), “nearby” (find other Zune users in your proximity) and “inbox” (see files received). You’ll need to find another Zune user - and turn on the device’s wireless hardware from a separate settings menu - to use these features.

Finally, there’s the Settings menu. Having apparently been slightly updated from the artist’s representation above, this lets you adjust settings for Wireless (on or off), Music (shuffle, repeat, and equalizers), Pictures (transitions/shuffle), the Display (themes, backlight, brightness, TV out, TV system (NTSC/PAL)), Sounds (on/off), and Radio (N. America/Europe/Japan), with an About screen. With the Themes, you too can have rad/elite/killer skins like the ones below - well, maybe. It’s expected that you’ll be able to transfer your own graphics to Zune, but that’s not entirely clear yet. We hear that Zune units currently in circulation are filled with small collections of bizarre artwork that can be used to trace leaked screenshots - unless they’ve been heavily edited.


As with all things pre-production, plenty can change between now and the date of Zune’s release - the company’s still tweaking menu options and features. But the meat of Zune’s interface and features should be pretty obvious at this point… or maybe not - our tipster could just be making all of this stuff up because he or she is delusionally excited about Microsoft products in a John Mark Karr/JonBenet Ramsey sort of way. So remember, kids, listen to Microsoft and take all this w/ a grain of salt until you see it in their blog or another official source - until then, it’s just rumor and speculation…

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I like the built in radio, i like the skins, i like the community gadget. I like the multiple video mode output. I hope apple is thinking of really innovating its i-pod line. Not just for preventing lowering sales but to enthusiasm us tech lovers. Why hasn’t the menu changed? Why isn’t there a nicer file viewer? Why doesn’t it play more video formats? Why does it scratch? This wireless thing looks great but could be quickly overrun by bluetooth enabled - music sharing- iphones. I hope, i really do.

Posted by aMaZe on August 23, 2006 at 10:14 AM (CDT)


People really care about the Zune?

Posted by Decible on August 23, 2006 at 10:19 AM (CDT)


Great scoop, iLounge.
I like the screen shots - even if they are “artists’ conceptions”. If accurate, gives a better feeling to me about the Zune interface than from the previous Zune UI article.


Posted by frabgod on August 23, 2006 at 10:25 AM (CDT)


i big-time like the large “this is the letter you’re on” image…

...hear that, rockbox? :)

Posted by OnlyShawn on August 23, 2006 at 11:15 AM (CDT)


Hey there, everypeoples. (bonus points if you get that reference)

this is cesar from the “grain of salt” blog that Jeremy mentions at the top. just want to say “hi” and thanks for the mention ;)

take care

Posted by cesar menendez on August 23, 2006 at 12:58 PM (CDT)


i believe that’s a h*r.

points to me.

Posted by OnlyShawn on August 23, 2006 at 3:08 PM (CDT)


... simply pathetic.  could they try and copy the ipod any harder?  How about that Gorillaz album art, the exact same image Apple uses on it’s iPod packaging and promotional materials.

Microsoft is simply pathetic. They’re like a balding, fat 57-year old who buys a Corvette or Porsche so he can feel young, trendy and with it. The only problem is people have figured out that the only people who drive Corvettes or Porsche’s are fat, 57 year olds.

I believe that results are the product of intentions.  Microsoft’s intentions in the music field have always been simply to make money, at the expense of user experience. That’s why Plays-For-Sure is such a huge joke—it was designed to serve lawyers and business people, not offer music fans a great experience.

Zune is Microsoft pretending that they “get it” ... Luckily Apple has a multi-year lead in the marketplace, and by the time MS has managed to badly copy the iPod, the real iPod will have evolved into a much more compelling device.

I seriously hope MS loses more money on this latest misadventure than it is losing in it’s XBOX division, its other attempt to be cool and hip.

Posted by bruce m on August 23, 2006 at 4:10 PM (CDT)


<gives shawn a hi-5> yes! bubs to be exact.

Posted by cesar menendez on August 23, 2006 at 5:03 PM (CDT)


I think APPLE fully aware about ZUNE line coming new device and it’s impact on todays market. Most peoples didn’t read the review about ZUNE line and it’s comingup online music store. Anyhow in the review(ZUNE line one media device is underwork and it will comeout in Jan 07 with windows vista). Again i think it will be realy big impact on ipod market because it’s sites already showing how big is ZUNE in mp3 players market.

Posted by Eskay on August 23, 2006 at 6:03 PM (CDT)


bruce m,

Check out this link and tell me who was copying who….


Posted by sdsdv10 on August 23, 2006 at 6:03 PM (CDT)


bruce m: Those were just artist renditions of the interface, as a point of comparison with how similar (and familiar) iPod details would look on the Zune. To the best of our knowledge, Microsoft isn’t trying to steal Gorillaz… but since we have Cesar, the ZuneInsider here, maybe we can get some low sodium confirmation on that? :-)

Cesar: Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on August 23, 2006 at 6:17 PM (CDT)


And I quote:
“... simply pathetic.  could they try and copy the ipod any harder?  How about that Gorillaz album art, the exact same image Apple uses on it’s iPod packaging and promotional materials.”

Um.. these are simply mockups and not anything official, so don’t knock Microsoft when someone else chooses to use the same Album Art that Applue uses

Posted by Chris D on August 23, 2006 at 6:22 PM (CDT)



Creative was only lucky to be grant the patent years after Apple has been making ipods. Creative’s own mp3 line totally lacks of creativity and their newest player has stunning resemblance to the video ipod.

Posted by frank on August 23, 2006 at 6:23 PM (CDT)


Hey Jeremy :) Nice to be here.

Not sure about Gorillaz, but they are one of my favorite bands of all time. Although I liked them back at their first record, back when they had DEL the funky homosapien.

I can tell you though that we’ve confirmed 3 artists on zune: 30 Seconds to Mars; HOT CHIP and CSS.(http://www.zuneinsider.com/2006/08/30_seconds_to_m.html#comments)

Posted by cesar menendez on August 23, 2006 at 7:24 PM (CDT)


Sorry frank, luck has nothing to do with it.  Have you ever filled out a patent application?  I have assisted in about 6.  There is no luck involve, just good business practice.  The granting process can take several years.  This is the US government agencies timeline, not Creative.

Posted by sdsdv10 on August 23, 2006 at 7:29 PM (CDT)



I sorry to burst your bubble, but I believe most people don’t really care all that much what content MS intends to put on the player as they will be loading their own music.  What I, and many others, want to know are specs and design.  What does the GUI look like, how does it work, what codec support.  I find your blog utterly useless.  No reflection on you, but more your employer.

Posted by sdsdv10 on August 23, 2006 at 7:32 PM (CDT)


Looks like Creative will be going after 100 mil from MS next.

Posted by Art Vandelay on August 23, 2006 at 11:23 PM (CDT)


I highly doubt that the Zune will be able to record FM radio, or any audio at all for that matter.

The RIAA doesn’t want that for sure, and that’s probably the real reason why Apple doesn’t include either features in the iPod.

Play-for-sure manufacturers could get away putting audio recording features that could also record radio because they were not dealing directly dealing with the RIAA. Same thing for including DiVX support and other formats that are more than often used for piracy.

I bet that the Zune won’t support DiVX, audio recording and sharing of unprotected songs over WiFi.

Posted by vtwin on August 23, 2006 at 11:25 PM (CDT)


bruce m,

You are the most retarded kid I’ve ever known. You are a disgrace to the iLounge community, and you have no flippin idea what you are talking about—not even the slightest clue.

First of all, without Microsoft, most iPod users would not even be able to use it, for Windows takes up 95% of the OS marketing.

Secondly, no matter how much money Zune loses, do you really think it would impact the MS Corporation? Sure, the Zune will lose them $200 Million dollars… Hey, still 6.1 Billion Dollars to go!

Thirdly, Apple makes fun of Microsoft for being “boring” and “old.” Maybe you HAVE TO BE “BORING AND OLD” to PAY YOUR FCUKING BILLS.

Microsoft > Apple Anyday.

Posted by HY on August 24, 2006 at 11:04 AM (CDT)


That ZUNE is bllshit. It looks so terrible. This won’t be an iPod killer. Micosoft will blast away their own heads. Have fun microsoft while watchin nobody buying your “iPod Killer”. It is just ridicoulus. It isn’t good enough to be compared with an iPod.

Seriously Microsoft: Now everybody sees what Microsoft is about: Stealin other’s ideas and earn Money with them. Microsofts own ideas are (most of the time) crap.

I’m Mac user, but I also use Windows. Nothin against Microsoft; I respect this guys have down (some) good work, but anyway atm they only produce crap.

Posted by Jesus on August 24, 2006 at 11:10 AM (CDT)


Who else hates it when pretntious Mac users like bruce pretend they’re cool by posting dreisive comments on sites like these? :D

I can’t wait for the player. Saving my money now.

Posted by TalaTsume on August 24, 2006 at 6:13 PM (CDT)


“I can’t wait for the player. Saving my money now.”

I can’t wait either. That is, I can’t wait to see that BSOD.

PS: I’m a PC user.

Posted by Nobody on August 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM (CDT)


“I seriously hope MS loses more money on this latest misadventure than it is losing in it’s XBOX division, its other attempt to be cool and hip.”

Come back to me when Apple comes out with a game platform.

Posted by Jones on August 24, 2006 at 8:43 PM (CDT)


The only reason the fat, balding 57-year olds in Redmond are launching Zune is because they have seen the fat, balding 57-year olds in Cupertino score with the iPod!  They are both the same age, geddit? 
Both companies have made a living off of ripping off other companies ideas—First Apple implements stuff (like the GUI from Xerox PARC) and then MSFT “steals” it from Apple.  Certainly, Apple is not paying Creative $100m because they did nothing wrong. 
The Zune hardware is only half the story.  How well it integrates with media player software is the crucial factor.  If history is any guide, it will take the Microserfs a couple of interations to get it right.

Posted by chipgeek on August 25, 2006 at 9:05 AM (CDT)



The interface sucks.

*throws sherbert ice cream at the screenshots to give them color*

Posted by LazyBoy on August 25, 2006 at 7:31 PM (CDT)


well….i love my ipod….i started 3 or 4 years ago (maybe?) with a creative, moved to an ipod, moved to an iriver, and moved back to an ipod.  all in all, it’s by far the best implemented piece of hardware that i’ve ever used.

with that being said, however….i think this zune is pretty neat.  of course, it depends on how it works with the software….but the software on the player actually looks very sleek and elegant to me.

please, gentlemen (?and ladies?)....stop being complete children and *completely* sounding like “everything about this player sucks complete ass”.  nobody will listen to your opinion if you can’t spout anything but fanboyisms.

Posted by onlyshawn on August 27, 2006 at 7:32 PM (CDT)


One BIG problem for Microsoft: ZUNE DIMENSIONS.

Posted by samslaves on August 29, 2006 at 4:40 AM (CDT)


iPod killer? naah, really hard…

Posted by ZENO TDS on August 29, 2006 at 1:44 PM (CDT)


I think that Zune device is good. But I prefear iPod. As alway, everybody will have MS products, and Apple fans, as me, will be the alternative, the people who THINK DIFFERENT, the cool people who cares about quality. Don’t worry about that… if you like Apple you don’t have to change.

Posted by manu on September 14, 2006 at 5:26 PM (CDT)


I had my ipod video for 2 months until it got stolen. Loved that thing. The thing is that itunes pisses the hell outta me, just couldn’t stand it. The ipod interface was a little wierd (maybe because i’m a pc boy), but other than that, i miss my ipod oh so much. I’m going to try out the zune this time. More fuctionality, bigger screen, and cheaper. But that thing is pretty huge.

Posted by fallou on February 4, 2007 at 7:36 PM (CST)


Hi very good sayt…

Posted by ICQ4081117 on February 6, 2007 at 8:12 PM (CST)


nice :)

Posted by gestibar on February 13, 2007 at 3:43 AM (CST)

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