Thursday, September 4, 2008

So here's the thing.

It's 630 in the morning on my day off and I'm sitting here reloading my Zune after a complete reformat of the software and hardware. This would be frustrating - especially to someone who has well over 100 gigs of music in her collection - if I didn't have to do it every time there's an update to the software or the firmware.

Here's the thing: I'm a huge fan of the Zune product and the software. The short of it is that I have no desire to own an iPod and probably never will. I was a fairly early adopter of the product and am the proud owner of a shiny pink 30 gig Zune aptly named Princess. I love the massive screen and the options to customize, I take it everywhere, and we've had some good times.

The software however, is an entirely different story. The first incarnation of the Zune software looked a little something like this:

Not exactly gorgeous, kind of looked like Windows Media Player but the most important point of all is that it worked flawlessly. Never stuttered, never hung, made syncing and creating playlists a breeze, and had a host of editing functions for those of us who are OCD about organization when it comes to music.

The revamp and upgrades to the Zune line brought along the new software and a whole bunch of issues. Sure the new software is glossy and sexy and comes in several different colors, with fancy menu animations and the ability to share your listening history with your friends, all fun features, but not so much when most of the function of the software was removed.

Pretty, right? Like cotton candy with album covers stuck all over it.

Upon updating, my collection went to hell in a handbasket (whatever that means). My perfectly organized system was thrown every which way, album art was gone! East coast and west coast rappers were colliding! It was chaos!

I was not discouraged. New software would surely equal some sweet new functions to fix this musical disaster. However, upon further investigation I discovered that they'd virtually eliminated any way to edit track/album/artist names. They added a clumsy and flawed drag, drop and merge alternative which really helped no one. A feature of the first software that was long lost was the ability to look up track names and album art from the Zune marketplace and clean up your collection that way. All in all, the software was pretty, but completely useless. Like a socialite.

I was determined to persevere. After all, I'm a fairly tech savvy young lady, and I would not be deterred by a largely flawed piece of software. I downloaded a tag editing program and set to manually fixing all of the tags and art to make the appease the software gods. Meanwhile, outrage was ensuing at the forums over the lost functionality. The poor Microsoft associates spent hours replying to angry messages and trying to throw out tweaks and fixes, like tiny morsels thrown to a huge angry pit bull who wants to rip your face off...and recode the software that you created.

It didn't take long for the promise of an update (apparently if enough people threaten to burn their Zunes, buy iPods and start worshiping at the altar of Wozniak and Jobs, Microsoft pays attention). I was psyched.... because I am a nerd.

Finally! The new update rolled out. Once again my entire collection was thrown into shambles. Britney and Christina were intermixing dangerously, John Mayer and Jason Mraz were now one unified front of guitar boy awesomeness. My techie heart was breaking slowly, how many times would I have to do this?

Another day was lost reloading the software and hardware. It was easier this time, the online album/track update was back! Success! Put down your pitchforks, angry people. Everything is gonna be alright. Months passed and my Zune software and I coexisted happily. Enough time had passed that the memories of the times it'd failed me were nothing more than misty memories of a tumultuous time.

Then my hard drive crashed.

That was traumatic enough. Although it didn't take me long to get it reformatted and up and running again. I set to redownloading the software and reloading my library for the 80th time. (Don't worry, I've since had the intelligence to back it up to my external hd. Why I didn't think of it sooner is beyond me.) I added all of my music back, sat back proudly, scrolled through it, my spider senses of organization and order tingling proudly - only to discover that somehow all of my custom album artwork was gone, and a ton of artwork that I'd imported through the software was missing also. I even quickly found out that even the totally annoying drag, drop, and merge function wasn't working properly either. If I merged one album and then tried to merge another into something else, it would revert back to the first one I'd created every time.

While I still haven't figured out the merging issue, and apparently if you have multiple versions of the same album, the software does not know how to comprehend that yet. It's not a huge problem, but an annoying one. However, I've finally managed to get everything else back in order for the millionth time. As a whole the software seems much more stable this time around, it hasn't frozen or crashed once, and my custom edits seem to be holding up so far. I'm still optimistic about it. I still love the product, it's just getting a little more difficult for me to recommend it to people as freely as I did before. Here's hoping that everything is finally going to stay in order this time. My music obsessed OCD heart cannot handle another upset. Do not let me down, Microsoft. I'll never let go.

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