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J. Allard in costume after losing a bet in which he said that the Sony PSP wouldn't pass 10 million units sold  (Source: Zune Online)

Robbie Bach
J. Allard leaving Microsoft after 19 years on the job

We reported earlier today that some shakeups were on the way from Microsoft with regards to its Entertainment & Devices Division. It had already been widely speculated that J. Allard, chief experience officer and chief technology officer, was leaving. It was also reported that Robbie Bach could also be shown the door.

TechFlash now reports that both Allard and Bach are leaving Microsoft. According to TechFlash's Todd Bishop, the departure of Allard and Bach will give CEO Steve Ballmer more direct control over Microsoft's struggling sectors (namely its Zune and Windows Mobile units).

Although there has been speculation that Allard might jump ship to Google and work on that company's tablet efforts, he refuted those claims and said that he wants to unwind for a bit and tackle “personal interests” after working at Microsoft for 19 years.

For his part, Ballmer stated the following in a company email announcing the departures:

Transitions are always hard. Robbie has been an instrumental part of so many key moments in Microsoft history — from the evolution of Office to the decision to create the first Xbox to pushing the company hard in entertainment overall. J as well has had a great impact in the market and on our culture, providing leadership in design, and in creating a passionate and involved Xbox community, and earlier being at the center of our work seizing the importance of the Web for the company...

Both have been great team builders with a strong record of attracting, coaching and growing talent. As a result, their teams are primed to continue to step up and deliver great products, great services and great results for the company.

You can read Ballmer's full email to the troops here.



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RE: zune BLAH
By Smilin on 5/25/2010 2:58:45 PM , Rating: 0
You likely were interested in drag-n-drop because you were managing your music via some other app.

The Zune software that came out during the Zune30 was nothing more than a re-skinned WMP. This is a side effect of the short development time of the Zune30. (It went from an unfunded idea to a device+software+online service in 8 months). It sucked.

The software now is awesome and blows away iTunes and the likes. I have ZERO desire for drag and drop. In fact I never even hook my Zune up via USB...all my sync is wireless (I usually leave it in the car in the garage..wifi reaches there).

I've owned many Zunes since the 30 including an HD and I LOVE THE EXPERIENCE.

If you gave up after the original software and you're a big fan of portable players then you owe it to yourself to see what's going on now. May I suggest zune.net/free for a two week trial to check it out?

The REAL problem with Zune is: Nobody knows. It's better than the iPod in almost every regard but MS Marketing never bothers to tell anyone. You're an example of this. How the hell are you supposed to know that the software is awesome now?


RE: zune BLAH
By Roffles on 5/25/2010 6:48:57 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
You likely were interested in drag-n-drop because you were managing your music via some other app.


That "some other app" is called windows explorer and, given the limitless options for organizing your music files and folders, there is no better way to manage your music.

Before purchasing a Zune80, I used the iRiver H300, the Cowon A2 and the Cowon i7. All three of these players are "drag and drop" and I was completely satisfied with the freedom of being able to make my own custom file folder structure to organize my music.

I think you fail to realize there are many of us out there who organize our music collections to our own particular tastes and we want a DAP that will allow us to carry that organization directly over to our player. For me personally, I must have a folder titled, "#To Review" sitting at the top of my file structure. I will put any new music in here including music my friends drag and drop over. This is where the music stays until I give it a listen and decide whether or not it will become part of my permanent collection. I do not want new music mixing in with my permanent collection.

On a Zune, especially an 80 or 120 which holds a lot of music, new albums will get lost in an ocean of other older music, sometimes disapearing for months. It creates confusion and takes away from the overall experience of discovering new artists. I could go on and on and on about the many ways the Zune software takes control of my mp3 files in ways that are not welcome, but you probably get the point. I look at my overall experience with the Zune as a big mistake and I've gone back to using my Cowon i7 while I wait for something from Cowon to come out with 64GB SSD.

Hopefully one day Microsoft will wise up and stop playing copycat with Apple. If you don't like the Apple model, then it doesn't matter if Microsoft beats Apple at its own game.


RE: zune BLAH
By Smilin on 5/26/2010 10:23:33 AM , Rating: 3
Everything you say makes sense. If I were using explorer to organize (like I did in the past) I would do that as well.

Some of the concepts though just don't carry over to Zune.

You don't want your new music mixing with the stuff you've chosen to keep? I just use the "personal content" filter on Zune to show that if I choose..or "Zunepass" filter to show me just stuff I don't own.

When I'm listening to new stuff I just right-click-add to a list then throw that list on my device. As I play I click the "heart" button if I dig something (or broken-heart if I hate). Anything hated *automatically* removes itself from the device and will never sync again.

When I'm done I sort by "heart" if I want to do something in particular with them.

quote:
On a Zune, especially an 80 or 120 which holds a lot of music, new albums will get lost in an ocean of other older music, sometimes disapearing for months.


As for new albums getting lost for months...never happens. I can sort any music by date added...in fact in the Zune software that is the default. In addition new albums (or playlists) get automatically placed as a ZuneHD front page "tile" on the device under "new" (there is also recent and pins)

quote:
I could go on and on and on about the many ways the Zune software takes control of my mp3 files in ways that are not welcome, but you probably get the point.


No, I don't get your point. Please do go on and on about what horrible things it does to your mp3 files. Curiously it does nothing horrible to mine so I have no idea what you are talking about.

quote:
Hopefully one day Microsoft will wise up and stop playing copycat with Apple. If you don't like the Apple model, then it doesn't matter if Microsoft beats Apple at its own game.


Hopefully they WON'T. They've massacred Apple at their own game. I'm Just not wanting to organize my crap the same way I did back in circa 1997 when the Napster craze was in full swing. It was the best back then but times have changed.


RE: zune BLAH
By Roffles on 5/26/2010 7:10:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As for new albums getting lost for months...never happens. I can sort any music by date added...in fact in the Zune software that is the default. In addition new albums (or playlists) get automatically placed as a ZuneHD front page "tile" on the device under "new" (there is also recent and pins)


You think I never tried to sort by date added? Maybe you didn't understand my complaint. I don't care what date it was uploaded. I would like to upload new and old music at the same time and know the new music stands completely apart from the rest of the collection. What if I upload 70 old albums and 1 new album to my Zune at the same time? I've lost count of the amount of times I've had to put my Zune on shuffle mode in hopes of finding a track from a new album I uploaded that got lost in the mix. Zune won't even let you sort by the year the album was made. Face it, the filtering and organizational abilities of the Zune are worthless.

quote:
No, I don't get your point. Please do go on and on about what horrible things it does to your mp3 files. Curiously it does nothing horrible to mine so I have no idea what you are talking about.


1. It scans all my music files, creates a hidden folder.jpg and a thumbs.db to go with it...putting a bunch of useless junk data in my music folders that are absolutely useless outside the Zune software. Winamp, Foobar and MediaMonkey can manage a library more efficiently without doing this.

2. By default it is set to automatically go to the web and attempt to update tag information or provide missing tag information. Imagine my suprise (having missed the setting my first time using the program) to see that it had overwritten some of my tag information and I had even discovered some corrupt tag data that I couldn't fix back to the way it was before.

3. By default if will go fetch album art. Again, first time thru I missed the setting. Hey look at that! Zune replaced my nice big 800x800 pixel album art embedded into my mp3 tag with a 300x300 pixel art from an album THAT BELONGS TO ANOTHER ARTIST.

4. It's been a while since I used the feature, but I seem to remember the heart/broken heart feature being buggy and messes up the star ratings and created inconsistencies when searching for rated music outside the Zune software.

The Zune is responsible for messing with my mp3 tag data and album art and I had to learn this the hard way. I remember reading a horror story on a forum whare a guy tagged almost his entire collection with really high pixel album art and later discovered that Zune overwrote all of it with smaller art.

quote:
Hopefully they WON'T. They've massacred Apple at their own game. I'm Just not wanting to organize my crap the same way I did back in circa 1997 when the Napster craze was in full swing. It was the best back then but times have changed.


I'm not sure how you organized your music back when you were using Napster. There are limitless ways to name and organize music folders and files and I don't think your experience as a Napster user bares any relevance on the subject. I do use MediaMonkey for good measure when I need more advanced filtering. Except for a few comments here on this article, I've never actually heard anyone mention the Zune software as a superior way to organize a music collection...so, I find this all very entertaining.

If you even care, I urge you to try a Cowon product. As a person who has tried different ways of listening to music, I am not convinced your viewpoint is holistic, but instead is focused on your acquired taste for Microsoft brand Kool-Aid.


RE: zune BLAH
By Azure Sky on 5/25/2010 8:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
no, I find music managers, even the best of them like MediaMonkey to be far less efficent and powerfull then proper MTP mode with windows explorer, I can drag, drop and create new folders, select files+rclick and make a playlist, its really FAR FAR less WORK then dealing with getting the zune software or itunes or any of that CRAP to let me do the same thing.

and I had a 30 with their FULL software suit, not the initial suit, I got my 30 after they had been out moded by the flash based units, and the player itself was amazing, but the software ruined it for me, having to hack a player you OWN to use it....may as well have gotten a damn itouch at least you can jailbreak them.....

If MS got smart(wont happen) they would do something i suggested.

Allow normal MTP mode, put the zune software(a basic version) on the player that can be run from the player for those who like it, Also have a web installer for the full suit on the player so the user can get the latist version of the software directly from MS's servers on any system you want to use the zune with zune software on.

I could even live with having to load the onboard software and have it enable MTP mode on the device the first time or even after each firmware update, at least then I wouldnt be hog tied by that damn zune software suit.

some examples of players i find to be a better value for music then the zunes.

sansa fuze
sansa clip
samsung yp-** players(every one i have used supported ogg and other audio formats and had execelent audio quality)
cowan players
iriver players like the h300's

I could go on and on if you like.....zune software sucks, itunes sucks......blah


RE: zune BLAH
By Smilin on 5/26/2010 4:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
no, I find music managers, even the best of them like MediaMonkey to be far less efficent and powerfull then proper MTP mode with windows explorer, I can drag, drop and create new folders, select files+rclick and make a playlist, its really FAR FAR less WORK then dealing with getting the zune software or itunes or any of that CRAP to let me do the same thing.


Ok so how do you:
Pull out tracks everywhere from your collection flagged as favorites?
Build a playlist based on related artists?
Play a song from the collection of another user who is a top listener to one of your favorite songs?

Just askin..I can't figure out how to do any of that with explorer.


RE: zune BLAH
By QueBert on 5/26/2010 4:52:04 AM , Rating: 1
No, it's not better in almost every regard. The only point which can be argued is the UI's better, but that's simply a matter of personal preference. My iPod has 500 available accessories for every one for a Zune, and honestly saying 500:1 I might be giving MS too much credit. iTunes is better, for the smart playlists alone. I know Zune supports some sort of auto smart playlists. But what Apple had done with them is simply amazing. I don't use iTunes to listen to music, and the UI is easy enough for me to do anything. Another point for the iPod. Back to support, my car stereo can control my iPod, many car stereos can. I can't think of a single car stereo that can control a Zune. My GF has a Zune in her car and she has to control the music directly from the Zune. That's epic fail.

Lesse, I can't think of anything her Zune does better. Wireless Sync is a boring feature, and it's on the Touch now so that's a moot point. Zune Pass is cool I will give MS that. But the iPod is better on every level that matters. And personally I like my Touch's UI better. The Zune HD is a lot better than the old 30's, but it's still not as good. The 30's were fucking horrible to use. iPod also gets more points in its favor because I can use a dozen different programs to sync. Zune has one, and the software is a POS which took all the mp3's I spent months organizing and properly tagging. And without asking me changed cover art & ID3 tags on about 70% of my music. Very randomly, I'm still trying to fix everything MS's software fucked up.

With all that said, the Zune isn't a bad player, but it's not superior in any important way.


RE: zune BLAH
By Smilin on 5/26/2010 4:08:47 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
No, it's not better in almost every regard. The only point which can be argued is the UI's better, but that's simply a matter of personal preference. My iPod has 500 available accessories for every one for a Zune, and honestly saying 500:1 I might be giving MS too much credit.

I think you're giving MS too much credit. 1000:1 might be a better ratio. Really though other than in car audio I just don't find myself missing any of them. How many iPod alarm clock docs do you really need?

quote:
iTunes is better, for the smart playlists alone. I know Zune supports some sort of auto smart playlists. But what Apple had done with them is simply amazing.


The "genius" playlists are ok but I dig the Zune experience much more. First of all you can only play music you own on iTunes. With Zune you can have it build a mix based on some "seed" (favorite song, artist, genre, etc) and it will build a playlist from your music based on your playcounts and favorites, based on related artists, based on other users with similar playcounts and a bunch of other factors. It will then also add music that is not even in your collection and play it. iTunes is incapable of doing this because it lacks a zunepass. Zune wins on this one.

quote:
Lesse, I can't think of anything her Zune does better. Wireless Sync is a boring feature, and it's on the Touch now so that's a moot point

not exactly a moot point. You have to own a touch to get this. *Every* zune has this...even the original 30s.

quote:
And personally I like my Touch's UI better. The Zune HD is a lot better than the old 30's, but it's still not as good. The 30's were fucking horrible to use. iPod also gets more points in its favor because I can use a dozen different programs to sync. Zune has one, and the software is a POS which took all the mp3's I spent months organizing and properly tagging. And without asking me changed cover art & ID3 tags on about 70% of my music. Very randomly, I'm still trying to fix everything MS's software fucked up.


The 30s can't hang with the iPod or ZuneHD, true. I'm not sure WTF happened with your stuff but I bet it's related to those "dozen different programs to sync". I've never had any problems with tagging. On the contrary I've had it find album art that I couldn't get elsewhere.

The gripes you have kinda sound like your last experience with the Zune was back in the days of the 30. The latest software is f'n awesome.


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