I’ve gotten a few emails about the new Zune PC software version that will be required for Windows Phone, so I thought I’d share a few details.
Until you install this update, you can attach a Windows Phone to your PC, but Windows won’t be able to find the drivers. Install Zune 4.7+ and you’re good to go.
Device setup and sync works almost exactly as with the Zune HD. The Phone screens are blue instead of gray. Why? Who knows.
Most of the application hasn’t changed since the previous Zune version. Quickplay and Collection views are the same, basically. (With one big change, see below.) Ditto for Social. Marketplace now has an apps store for Windows Phone, which is of course new.
The only big change in the Collection view is that Movie content (Videos, Movies) is now segregated into DRM-Free and Purchased sections. What’s interesting here is that the Zune service now tracks all of the TV show and movie purchases you’ve made over the years (and any movie rentals) and makes them available streaming (or, when applicable, downloading) at any time, from any Zune compatible device. You can see this for yourself today on the Xbox 360: If you navigate to Zune Videos, all your content is there ready to be streamed. So I purchased "Hot Tub Time Machine" on the PC and actually watched it, via instant-on HD streaming, via the new Xbox 360 S. Works (and looks) great.
(No comments about my movie choices, please.)
There are other small changes, most of which amount to informational text throughout the UI explaining what else you can do (share pictures on Windows Live Photos, etc.). These messages disappear over time.
The Zune PC software is as nice as ever and the type of thing people assume Apple makes, when in fact their media software is bloated, slow, and looks like dBASE III. So no worries for media sync. This is a superior solution.
The bigger issue here, I think, is that Zune is the only way to synchronize pictures from the phone to the PC: Windows Phone does not appear as a USB drive in Explorer, and won’t work with the built-in Windows photo acquisition software, or any third party software for that matter. The ramifications of this are many. On the photo front, you’re not given a way to name your pictures as they’re downloaded, which is inexcusable.
But it also means Windows Phone won’t work like a normal MTP-type device anywhere else either. So if you plug your Windows Phone into, say, an Xbox 360, nothing happens. With an iPod/iPhone, Zune, or whatever, you can actually browse the device’s media collections from the console and playback media on your TV that way. It doesn’t work with Windows Phone.
These are both (related and) bad design decisions, and I’d like to see Microsoft fix both of these issues.