Zune’s getting free video, will iPod? | iLounge Backstage


Zune’s getting free video, will iPod?

If you’re willing to believe all the Zune “rumor and speculation” out there, part of Microsoft’s plan to convert the iPod-loving masses is “free music:” the company has already confirmed that it will pre-load music videos from at least three bands onto the Zune players planned for November of this year, and persistent chatter suggests that the company wants to let iTunes Music Store customers re-download all of their Apple-encrypted tracks in a Zune-compatible format, at no charge. Now it appears that Microsoft is ready to break down another free content barrier to Zune’s success: if you want totally free, Zune-ready television shows, it looks like you’ll be able to get them, too. How? A Windows Media Center-ready PC. For the details, click on Read More, below.

Let’s back up. Microsoft released its third-generation Windows XP Media Center a while ago, and though Apple has mocked the 40-plus button remote controls sold for Media Center-ready PCs, it hasn’t released either software or hardware with Microsoft’s best function: TV recording. Apple’s iPods and beautiful, easy-to-use computer media interface Front Row allow you to play videos, but you have to make them or buy them yourself. As we’ve explained in several different tutorials, that process is either expensive, terribly time-consuming, or difficult - there’s no Apple-developed instant TV-to-iPod recording device, so instead of just letting you watch your DVR/TiVo-recorded video on your iPod, you typically need to download or buy a special piece of third-party software, then spend time recording, transferring, and converting the TV show, etcetera - daunting for average people. Or you have to pay $1.99 per video download, which seems like a lot considering that thousands of TV shows air and can be recorded for free.

Microsoft has taken a different - and to date, better - approach. Today’s Media Center PCs can record directly from built-in TV tuners and transfer videos to dedicated Media Center Extenders - boxes connected to TVs for the sole purpose of displaying Media Center content, Xbox game consoles, or certain portable video devices. You don’t pay per show for recordings, and you don’t need special software or hardware. A skeptic’s natural response to this is obvious: “So what? Almost no one owns Media Center PCs, and only supergeeks are going to shell out the money to buy them.” We agree. And we think Microsoft figured that out over the last three generations of Media Center.

That’s why every home Windows Vista buyer’s disc will include a new version of Media Center, either unlocked out of the box as part of the “Premium” installation, or available on the installation DVD as an paid upgrade with nothing more than an unlock code. If your computer doesn’t already include a TV tuner for recording, you can add it for a low cost. Suddenly, your PC becomes a DVR, a server for your home televisions, and an automatic converter for your portable media device - such as Zune. Like it or not, this Microsoft solution is easier, faster, and cheaper in the long run than jumping through the iPod’s current hoops - and a truly integrated hardware/software solution, which the iPod currently lacks for video.

As of today, Apple’s missing all three pieces of this strategy - you can cobble together third-party Mac and iPod TV recording tools, but they’re not cheap or easy enough for most iPod owners, particularly computer novices, and those with PCs. Then there’s the question of how to play these videos on a standard TV that’s not connected to a Mac or iPod - Microsoft has the aforementioned Extenders and Xboxes, but there’s no video equivalent of AirPort Express. None of this is to say that Microsoft’s alternatives are ideal solutions, but they exist, and that counts for something.

Conventional wisdom would have it that Apple can afford to be behind the curve, since Media Center PC sales aren’t impressive, Vista’s not due out until 2007 (we think), and no Media Center-compatible portable video device has been more than a modest seller. But if Microsoft gets its stuff together, both figuratively and literally, it can address the big video picture in a way that average, price-conscious users may well find more compelling than purchasing free TV content or buying Apple-developed hardware. From what we gather, Microsoft starts executing on that strategy in November with Zune, and will continue throughout early 2007, so the clock’s ticking for Apple. Our hope is that a better solution’s coming, and soon.

« Passing on Paris & other notes

Zune interface blown-out and skinned »

Related Stories



One word: EyeTV

Posted by TheT on August 24, 2006 at 6:10 PM (CDT)


Last time I checked, I could get free videos for my iPod too. It’s called the internet. Amazing concept, eh folks?

Posted by Nobody on August 24, 2006 at 9:37 PM (CDT)


Yes, Nobody, but that would require time and effort, incase you hadn’t noticed, the folkes up in Washington banking on their users not putting forth either.

Posted by Somebody on August 24, 2006 at 10:42 PM (CDT)


So, how exactly is MS’ solution cheaper than the current Mac setup?

You need

a) a new PC

b) Vista & a video card

Option A. So buying a new Media Center Pc is cheaper than adding EyeTV to a Mac?

Option B) At least $250 to $300 dollars - pretty much the same price of an EyeTV.

Where exactly are you saving so much money?

Considering that most people have ipods in the market, you’re talking about Zune + Media Center PC to capture and convert TV shows ... aren’t these the same people too cheap to buy tv shows from itunes?

So, they wouldn’t be too cheap to buy a media PC & Zune (around $1,000 to $1,500?)

After all, itunes has probably a good 50% of the most popular shows available to buy and isn’t the point of itunes so you don’t even have to bother to record ANYTHING let alone get cable TV?

Honestly, how many average Pc user is going to care? They cannot get rid of the 100 malware search bars, they’re going to try and run a coxal from the wall to the PC and then tape shows and then transfer them to a Zune?

AND they believe it will be seamless? Isn’t that why even diehard Pc users buy ipods?

You give too much credit to MS. This will work as well as their watch OS.

Posted by jbelkin on August 24, 2006 at 11:47 PM (CDT)


Suggestion fo Microsoft: Make the Media Center recorder boxes the ability to transfer video files directly to the Zune (bypassing the PC). That way, Zune-users would be able to share videos with each other using that “DJ Mode” thing or whatever it’s called.

That’d be so killer!

Posted by Damien on August 27, 2006 at 6:55 PM (CDT)


I was wondering where i could fine music video for my zune.  it would be helpful. thanks


Posted by David Wright on December 13, 2006 at 9:54 PM (CST)


I have 36 full leangth videos ripped from dvd’s to my zune, useing dvdXsoft DVD to Zune Converter   Have np and ipod movies look like crap. ZUNE FTW

ANd i still have plenty of rm

Posted by silentdeath on January 9, 2007 at 5:55 PM (CST)


Man zunes rock they are so kul

Posted by Marcus on March 7, 2007 at 8:03 PM (CST)


i got one 2 days ago and i have a laptop and i cant figure out how to put a movie on my zune

Posted by tennisdude on July 23, 2007 at 6:12 PM (CDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
iLounge Weekly

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2018 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy