It has been a long time coming and a far bigger step then most people would assume, but the Zune software experience is finally coming to Apple computers. Previously the assumption was that Microsoft would provide a small, limited Mac client for syncing Windows Phone 7 phones, as they did with the late, unlamented KIN phones.
However, a tweet yesterday by Microsoft’s head of Windows Phone marketing for the UK, Oded Ran, indicated that the entire Zune client, not just a little syncing app, would be coming to Mac. This is great news for several reasons. First, it will give Mac users a far more powerful, complete experience when they sync their Windows Phone 7 device with their MacBook (stop sniggering; there will be some, at least). More importantly in my eyes, it will allow Mac users to make use of the fabulous Zune media management client.
I have been using the Zune PC software since I got my first Zune (a second generation Zune 80) and I absolutely love it both for managing my full music collection on my laptop (20 gigs and counting) but also for effortlessly syncing my Zune 80 and Zune HD wirelessly. Yes, wirelessly.
From my extensive experience with both Zune and iTunes (six devices overall; that’s a lot of syncing), Zune is by far the more elegant, more pleasant solution of the two for device syncing. My Zunes sync faster than my iPods (even wirelessly) and I have more control over my collection using the Zune client. Using Zune, it is far easier to manage which albums get synced where and to keep my album art accurate.
I think the thing I like best about the Zune software is that the focus is always on the music. With iTunes, I always feel like the focus is on Apple and their software, not on my collection. Your music collection powers such fantastic features like the Quickplay portal, which shows you all your most recent selections along with new music, playlists, and anything else you want to pin to it for quick access. Then there is the Now Playing screen with its montage of your entire album collection. The Smart DJ system on Zune is also superior to Apple’s Genius system in my opinion for creating themed playlists easily and quickly, plus it makes use of Zune Pass to select and pull new music from the cloud to add to the playlist.
Zune Pass is the system that allows you to stream more or less all the music ever recorded by human beings to your device for a set fee every month. In addition to streaming as much as you want, you also get to keep one album per month. If you are a Mac user who is the type of person that loves discovering new artists or you just like ever changing playlists, then Zune Pass will be a revelation for you.
Hopefully this step will show that Microsoft is really dedicated to making Zune the backbone of their mobile solutions, the way that ActiveSync used to be. Only trust me, the Zune solution is much better than Active Sync ever was.
I think a lot of Mac users will be very pleasantly surprised by what Microsoft’s Zune system will offer them. Now, if I could only use it to sync my iPad…