Zune 3.0 Is Here

I realize I’m a little late to the party, as it’s been a few days since I’ve synced my Zune. However, Zune 3.0 is here. In addition to two new hardware models from Microsoft, those of us that already own Zunes (the original devices and the 2.0 devices) get to reap the benefits of the software/firmware update.

What It Added

  • Marketplace is now available directly through the device. Wireless is on all the time, by default (though you have the option to turn it off), and you can download new content whereever you can find a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect with your Zune
    • On that same tip, apparently McDonalds’ Wi-Fi hotspots will now be free to use with the Zune. I didn’t even realize that McDonalds had Wi-Fi hotspots, but I guess they do, and they normally charge people to use them.
  • You can now tag songs you hear on the FM radio for download from the MarketPlace*
  • MixView – I haven’t tried this, yet, but apparently the Zune will automatically locate content similar to what you’re currently enjoying and give you the option to listen to it (and, apparently, to purchase it from the MarketPlace)*
  • Games – you can now download and play games on your Zune
  • AudioBooks – a new category has apparently been added to allow you to categorize and add audiobooks to your Zune (separate from your music and podcast audio files)
    • You can purchase new audiobooks from Audible and OverDrive

What’s Still Missing?

There are two major elements still missing from the Zune software/firmware that really have me upset.

Sort By Release Date

First of all, there is still no way to sort your music chronologically on the Zune. I am really beginning to feel like I’m the only person in the world that cares about this, as I’ve found the same problem with a lot of PC-based media players lately.

Does anyone else care about being able to sort music chronologically? It really irks me when I have to skip back and forth just to listen to my albums in the order in which they were released. I really don’t want to listen to R.E.M.’s Accellerate before I listen to Eponymous. It makes no sense to me.

Still Windows-Only

As of yet, Microsoft is still keeping the Zune software confined strictly to Windows-based computers. No joy for Mac or Linux users.

Honestly, I think this is the number one thing keeping Zune from being able to realistically take even a small portion of the iPod’s market share. Microsoft will never be able to get techies really interested if they can only sync the device with their Windows boxes. If the techies aren’t interested, the buzz will never be loud enough for the masses to hear it.

Where Can I Find Out More?

ZDNet did a video walkthrough of many of the new features in the Zune firmware and PC software:

There are also some decent reviews in the following locations: