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First-Gen Zune Getting All The New Features: This is How You Treat Your Customers

Illustration for article titled First-Gen Zune Getting All The New Features: This is How You Treat Your Customers

Click to viewThe first generation 30GB Zune—which 1.2 million of you already purchased—is getting all the new Zune's features. All. Sure, the new Zune is more of a half step forward than a completely new design. But Microsoft's done something fantastic here by rewarding first gen buyers with cool new stuff that also happens to be free by software upgrade. And talk about spin—Microsoft just took a middling jump in hardware and turned it into a genuinely good move for loyalists (as well as a PR miracle). Are you paying attention Apple?

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Contrast this to what Apple did between the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The iPod Touch is running the same OS as the iPhone, but it's artificially gimped. There's no email. There's no weather or stocks. No notes. No adding events to the Calendar. When old hardware can't support new features, that's not anyone's fault. But all this stuff that's right there in the software and costs nothing for Apple to put in, and they leave it out to artificially differentiate the product line.

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Back to Zune. Not only is the old 30GB getting the new Wi-Fi syncing, it's getting the updated sharing features, the new codecs, the podcasts, and the new Windows Media Center TV on the go. It's essentially the new Zune, except thicker and with less storage space...which makes us ask why Microsoft would be so generous as to kill half the reasons why you'd ever upgrade to a new Zune. But as buyers, we'll just say thanks.

If you're now interested in what Microsoft's throwing your way, you have the option of picking either the 4GB, the 8GB, 30GB or the 80GB, which only differ on size and storage space (plus the 80GB comes with premium headphones). You get to decide what you want. We appreciate the gesture of supporting your old hardware to the end, when it makes sense from a customer's point of view, and when technically feasible. (Keep ignoring the marketers, thanks.) No artificially gimped players here.

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DISCUSSION

I don't really understand the comparison between the Zune and the iPod Touch/iPhone, either. It's been noted over and over again by multiple reviewers that its difficult to compare the Touch to the iPhone because they are targeting two completely different markets: those that want the phone capabilities and those that don't. A lot of users dislike the idea that they need to replace their phones - particularly enterprise users - in order to get the touch screen iPod. In that respect, I applaud apple for creating a device that does that. Now, while gimping the calendar and removing notes, weather, stocks, and - for some reason - Safari was, well, bizarre, especially considering they left YouTube available, in my opinion, but you can't compare the iPhone and Touch simply because while the touch may be a gimped iPhone, it's purpose is completely different. Yes, it's gimped, but some people want it that way. Hopefully they'll take in customer feedback and rebuild the Touch in such a way that will... alleviate... some of the concernes placed about it, but honestly? When you don't compare the two, it's a completely different ballgame.

The Touch should have come first. It's all marketing and perception, but, then again, if it had, the iPhone wouldn't've been so groundbreaking. Microsoft's done something very smart with the move to add Zune 2 features on the Zune 1, but, when you get down to it, it's simple a software upgrade with minor physical changes. Apple didn't need to change the UI because, while the Touch may be stunted, it's interface is brilliant. Change this fast would have been a disservice. Do it right the first time and you've got nothing to worry about. Now Apple just has to follow up with new features they've promised and, honestly? They're on the way. Just remember, the iPhone was touted as being locked to Apple proprietary programs from day one. None of this, including the moves to not avoid breaking 3rd party software, should be of any surprise.