Zune

Microsoft have today posted that they are making some changes to the Windows Phone Marketplace, including removing the option to buy apps from within the Zune PC software.

0184_image_25381DE7

This is what Microsoft posted on their blog:

First, we’re removing the option to shop for Windows Phone apps from the Zune PC software. Second, as part of a larger Marketplace improvement effort, you’ll soon need Windows Phone 7.5 installed on your phone to buy and download new apps, or update existing ones.

Read more about the changes here.

To be honest I don’t think this is going to cause any real issues. Any apps I have purchased, admittedly not that many, have been done via the phone or the Marketplace directly.

What do you think?

2

Today Microsoft have released version 4.8 of their Zune software.

zune-site-deck-laptops

Here is what Microsoft posted on their Zune blog:

Today we’re releasing the next version of the Zune software. As one of the Zune program managers, I wanted to provide a brief look at what’s new in the 4.8 release, which you can download here. To update your current version, click Settings > Software > General, and then click Check For Updates.

If you already have a Windows Phone, you probably know that the Zune software is a key companion for your device. It allows you to update your phone software, sync photos and videos, shop for apps, and more.

You probably won’t notice too many differences in how Zune 4.8 looks: Most of the changes were designed to pave the way for the next release of Windows Phone, codenamed Mango. Our primary goal with this release was to make the Zune software the best companion for your Mango phone, so the team implemented a few new features and made a bunch of under-the-hood refinements and fixes, including several based on your feedback.

Faster Windows Phone updates

One important job of the Zune software is to update your Windows Phone software. In version 4.8, we’ve streamlined the process to help get your phone up and running again faster with the latest features and fixes.

  • Progressive updates: In Zune 4.8, you only have to click the update button once for multiple updates. Once an update is finished, the software automatically checks for more and repeats the installation process until your phone is completely up to date.
  • Streamlined backup. By synching media separately from other phone content, we’ve lowered the overall time it takes to back up your phone. The backup file is also more compact, so it should take up less space on your computer.
  • Skip phone backup: If you don’t have enough room on your computer to store a phone backup file, you’ll now have the option to skip this step so you’re not blocked from updating your phone.
More places and languages

As we’ve announced, Mango will expand the number of locations and languages where Windows Phone is available around the world. We made sure the Zune software would follow. While it may seem small, this is possibly the largest overall change in Zune 4.8. You’ll also notice vast improvements in text entry and sorting for many Asian languages.

Zune 4.8 now supports 22 display languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (US and UK), Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish.

In addition, Zune 4.8 is available in these countries or regions: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Tweaks and fixes

Finally, the team made a lot of under-the-covers changes to improve your overall experience in Zune 4.8, although not all of these changes may be readily apparent. Here are a few you will notice:

  • 48-hour movie rentals
  • Parental Controls now support M-rated (Mature) content
  • Option to hide purchase confirmation dialog for faster app checkout
  • See what apps are compatible with the Windows Phone you own

We’re continually looking for ways to improve the Zune software and Marketplace. On behalf of the entire Zune software team, thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy this release.

Ian over at the Digital Lifestyle.com has just released the Digital Lifestyle Show podcast number 293 and this week we talk more about WHS 2011 and the possible death of Zune.

DLS Show

Here is what’s on this show this week:

Welcome to show 293 (wow getting close to 300!) and this week Andrew and I talk about Windows Server 2011 and whether you should install 3rd party drive extender addins, how to get Windows Home Server V1, SSD drives and Windows Media Center,  the death of Zune and WebOS tablets, Windows Phone 7, Apple TV, Boxee and Twonky for iOS

[button link="http://thedigitallifestyle.com/cs/tdl/b/podcast/archive/2011/02/17/the-digital-lifestyle-show-293-death-of-the-zune.aspx" style="download" window="yes"]You can listen to this week show here[/button]

Based on the Microsoft KB article 2484484 Troubleshooting problems during software update for Windows Phone 7 which has been released in anticipation of the upcoming update for Windows Phone 7. It’s safe to assume the first WP7 update will be available soon.

Gregg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone 7, has made recent statements stating the update is not too far away.  According to Sullivan, Microsoft plans to release the first of two updates within the next few months. Obviously, the first update will bring copy and paste, which was announced at launch, as well as bug fixes and better performance when loading applications. The second update, which is planned for release in “the first half” of this year, will bring CDMA support for Sprint and Verizon.

If you read through the article; updating through the Zune Desktop client may not be as smooth as one would think, especially for the people that currently own a WP7 device but have never used the Zune Client.  Hopefully the kinks will be worked out by the time the update is released.

WHS Phone is a new Windows Phone 7 app for Windows Home Server. You can connect to your server and browse files, stream music, view photos, and much more. This app has now been upgraded to version 1.1.2.1.

This app is available now in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace for $3.99. Use Zune Marketplace to check it out!

WHS Phone App

App Purchase from Zune Marketplace

The app is available for your Windows Phone 7 through Zune. The price is $3.99.

Changes In This Release

Here are the list of changes for this release:

  • Add Folder Songs to Playlist (Tap and Hold to add files, non-recursive)
  • Add SSL Support
  • Add Server’s WHS Phone Addin Version to About Page
  • Add days since last backup to computer details
  • Music should play when a song is added to the playlist
  • Add Version, URL, and contact information to the WHS Console Addin
  • Progress bar on the user save pop is not working.
  • WHS Phone Addin Users drop down does not update when new users are added, WHS console has to be restarted to see new users.
  • Server Page Storage Pool is Calculated Incorrectly.
  • WHS Phone Crashes with 3000+ Images in a Folder
  • German Translation for incorrect.
  • Server screen, Hard drive scroll viewer bounces back up
  • Log in crashes if invalid characters are entered

Check out what Tim wrote about it earlier this month.

WHS Phone is a new Windows Phone 7 app for Windows Home Server. You can connect to your server and browse files, stream music, view photos, and much more. This app is available now in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace for $3.99. Use Zune Marketplace to check it out!

WHS Phone App

App Purchase from Zune Marketplace

The app is available for your Windows Phone 7 through Zune. The price is $3.99.

WHS Phone App

Download the WHS Add-In

Once you install the WHS Phone app you will need to install a matching WHS Phone Add-In to your Windows Home Server. You can download the Add-In at:

http://www.whsphone.com/Download

Once you are up and running you can listen your music:

WHS Phone App

.Browse photos

WHS Phone App

.Check on your WHS Health

WHS Phone App

.And even look at the Shares.

WHS Phone App

.

You can visit PJ Development’s website directly at:

http://www.whsphone.com/

.

Video Demos

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Let us know what you think of the WHS Phone App!

James over at the Tenniswood blog had a problem trying to install the Zune software on his Windows Home Server Code Name Vail, until he came across a work around.

Screen-shot-2010-11-11-at-09_29

Here is what James said:

I came across a problem installing the Zune Software on my home server, as it doesn’t support server operating systems like Windows Home Server VAIL. After hunting around I finally pick up this tip for routing around the microsoft restrictions imposed by the installer app.

  1. Download the software.
  2. Login to the computer with the local administrator account.
  3. Change the .exe extension to .zip, then upzip the file.
  4. Browse to the \packages folder.
  5. Right-Click on Zune-x64.msi and click Install
  6. Follow the prompts like a regular install of the software.

Nice one James!

On November 2, 2010 I was able to attend the Windows Phone 7 Executive Briefing Event held at the Microsoft facility in downtown Los Angeles. I arrived at 8:30 and opened the netbook, ready to write down all I could about Windows Phone 7. Read on to find out more about the Windows Phone 7.

wp7logo_web

I took a vacation day from work and rode the Metro downtown to the Wells Fargo Center. 33rd floor. Very nice. Seriously.

Wells Fargo Center

Arriving at the Microsoft Los Angeles location, I was greeted by crisp signage and smiling faces. I was early so the phones were not out and I would have to wait to get my chance to review the new Windows Phone 7. I sat in a conference room with 50 other people waiting for the festivities to begin.

Microsoft Los Angeles

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The Briefing

The Microsoft Mobility Specialist, Toni Abrusia Bollinger, was the first to speak and tell us about Windows Phone 7. She told us to forget everything we knew about Windows Mobile. Toni started talking about hubs. Hubs?

Windows Phone 7 has hubs. According to Toni, these six hubs (and the associated facts) are environments labeled as:

  • People – Contacts are integrated with applications such as Outlook and Facebook
  • Games – Xbox type games
  • Pictures – Camera usage is the second highest rated activity on mobile phones
  • Music – Includes Zune Music, TV and Movies
  • Office – Office Hub beats any other experience and integrates SharePoint.
  • Marketplace – 1,000 Apps ready now, 10,000 supposed to be ready by June 2011

Note: Great conference room. Crappy cell service. Even the T-Mobile reps were only getting 2G service.

Windows Phone 7 Presentation

Ian over at the Digital Lifestyle.com has just released the Media Center Show podcast, number 272, and as it becoming normal I am on the show!

digital lifestyle logo

Here is what Ian has to say about this weeks show:

This week Andrew Endney and John Zajdler from HomeServerShow.com join me to chat about the weeks news including Pinpoint for Windows Home Server, streaming media over the internet, the Boxee Box and we talk about the new Apple TV. Also this week there has been the first glimpses of Windows Media Center in Windows Embedded so we talk about the new boxes and what we want to see from a set top box.

Links from this weeks show:

You would think after all these appearances you would think he would spell my name right!

Anyway, we had a lot of fun recording as usual, and as usual you can listen to the show here.

Over at the official Windows Home Server blog, my good friend Joel Burt has just published an article entitled Syncing Windows Home Server, Zune and Windows Media Center!

I was putting the initial workings together for a similar article after seeing what Tim had at CES but now that Joel has done such a good job I figured the best thing to do was to just repost Joel’s article.

Nice work buddy!

Joel writes…..

Windows Home Server was a large part of CES this year. I was pleasantly embraced by all you fellow Windows Home Server users and I joyfully shared the new features sets that Power Pack 3 empowered your home server with. The beautiful thing about our booth is the ability to walk everyone step by step, on how to take advantage of these new features. For those of you who were not at CES, I’d like to take the time to share with you those steps that I shared with CES attendees. One of the key scenarios that got a lot of interest at the show was how a Zune music player can benefit from having a Windows Home Server around as well. This post goes into more detail about why and how it all works together.

As most of you probably know, Power Pack 3 is a free update for Windows Home Server that comes down from Windows Update. You can find install procedures within our blog, so please, if you have not updated your Windows Home Server yet, do so! For the rest of this post, I will assume you already have your Windows Media Center, Windows Home Server + Power Pack 3 and your Zune setup.

Before we get going in the details, let’s start by talking about why I’m so jazzed about our Zune + Home Server scenario. The key benefit in my mind is in how the Zune player can be a great way of transporting all of your recorded TV from a Media Center PC on the go. But I’m getting ahead of myself…Let’s paint a picture for you:

Before I left for CES earlier this month, I set several recordings of my favorite TV show to be recorded and then compressed to Zune format. I am not sure if you have ever used a Zune HD but I was extremely surprised with how long the battery lasts playing video. WOW! I consistently played 6 hours of content on the trip -no charging. My laptop wouldn’t have made it through my first connection flight let alone the whole trip. Yes, I had a connection because I bought my plane ticket a little late and had to arrive very early in the morning for setup. At least I was well prepared with my media!

So here’s the details of how I managed to stay completely entertained during my flight(s):

1. Open Windows Media Center and verify that you have your TV shows set to be recorded. Next, , go back to the main Windows Media Center menu and scroll up to your Home Server tiles. Select TV Archiving to begin.

2. TV Archiving will display <Series>, <Programs> and <Settings>. “Series” will display the series you have selected to be recorded. Series are multiple shows or multiple episodes. Programs display individual recordings and will only apply to that one episode/recording. It is up to you to decide which one you would like to use or use both. I’ll be selecting Series recordings because I’m excited to watch a few seasons of my shows on my next trip. In order to continue, you will need to select at least program or series.

3. Now that I have one selected, I can scroll over to settings to decide what I would like to do with these recordings. I personally like to Archive all recordings automatically, but this is another optional feature for you. I also have 6TBs of space on my home server… not that I’m bragging. :) *cough*

4. “Create a compressed copy” is the feature we’re going to enable here. In order to take advantage of this feature, you have to move or archive your content to your Windows Home Server or you cannot select this. Since we’re working with a sweet Zune HD, set the format to Zune. Finally, scroll down a little further and set the saved folder to “Home Server Videos folder” (or one of your choice). To make things easier for this step by step, please select “Home Server Video folder” and click Save.

Now what we’ve done here is set Windows Media Center to record our shows and then make two copies of the show on our Windows Home Server; one in its original full quality format and the other in a smaller Zune format to preserve our space on our Zune. After all, we have lots of play time to take advantage of, let’s make the most of it.

I do want to call out a little secret that you can take advantage of. Some TV shows – especially those that are transmitted in HD – use AC3 audio and because of that, your shows might not compress. In order to fix that, you’ll need to download and install an AC3 codec. I know it sounds complicated, but it’s not and most importantly – it’s free. I personally downloaded mine from http://download.cnet.com/AC3Filter/3000-2170_4-190264.html?tag=mncol#userreview but you can get yours from wherever you like. [Note that the below process is not supported by Microsoft, and users should proceed with caution. This is presented merely as an option for users.]

Let’s take a quick sidebar to walk you through a quick step-by-step for installing the one codec that I’ve used on my own, AC3Filter:

1. After running the file you just downloaded click Next

2. Leave all options default and click Next

3. Then click Install

4. With the codec installed, now we can move on to setting up the Zune! Your Windows Media Center is well on its way to creating your giant TV show collection in Zune compatible form. Let’s tell the Zune to look at that folder and to sync with it.

Since you’ve already installed Power Pack 3, your Windows Home Server’s Video shared folder has already been added to your libraries. Zune software is setup! That was easy. You didn’t have to do anything!

Here I have “X-Men” ready and converted. It does take a while (maybe overnight) to convert. I already had this one completed, so you might want to be a little patient.

5. Finally, I can sync this video to my Zune by right clicking and selecting, “Sync with Zune HD”. Repeat this for all of the videos you would like to have on your Zune HD and enjoy your next flight to where ever you go!

As an added bonus, you can even watch this newly created WMV file through your Zune software. How cool is that?!

JB

Dave at the guys over at the Home Server Show have released show number 72. This one is again from CES in Las Vegas and again has me on it – honestly, I really did more than just be interviewed on various podcasts :-)

home_server_show_small

Here’s what Dave has to say about this weeks show:

The Home Server Show 72

Today’s episode wraps up the interviews that Jim, Chris, and Dave did at CES 2010.  You will hear from Mark Pendergrast, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft for Windows Home Server, the Zune team from Microsoft, and from a handful of bloggers and podcasters we met up with at CES.  You will also hear an interview with LaCie’s Mike Mihalik about the new server from LaCie.  We were even recognized by a listener and managed to corner him for an Interview.

Special thanks goes out to all who participated in these interviews.  Andrew Edney, Timothy Daleo, Terry Walsh, Jim Clark, Garry Whittaker, Ian Dixon, and Jose Ortiz as well as all the vendors we spoke with.   I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you guys, some for the first time, and look forward to doing it again.  We had a great time and it will certainly sound that way in some of the audio clips.  I hope you enjoy all the hard work that went into this show by Dave, Jim, and Chris.

As usual you can listen to the show by clicking here.

This weekend fellow UWHS writer fasthair gave me the secret decoder ring for our AC3 filter issue. After a quick installation, my WHS was creating copies of new Recorded TV for my Zune and placing them in my WHS Videos folder. The functionality of Windows Media Center, Windows Home Server and Zune is now working! Thank you fasthair!

Background – The AC3 Issue

With WHS, WMC and TV Archive we want to integrate our portable media. Microsoft has given us the tools but we all have the same unfortunate issue.

The issue: We cannot use the “create a compressed copy” feature for WHS. The check box is there but it will not work. Huh?

Let me explain…

Once your TV show has recorded in WMC, WHS and TV Archive will copy the file to your Recorded TV folder. As added functionality, if you want WHS to create a smaller version of the show for your portable device, you can choose in the settings to have WHS save this smaller copy to the Videos folder. This is a great idea but it does not work.

Let me explain further…

Again, the functionality of saving a smaller copy does not work. What basically happens is that TV Archive will start to process the Recorded TV show, and if the show has AC3 audio like most shows, the process will stall. Your recordings will never make it to your WHS. Microsoft did not include the ability to decode the AC3 audio stream so WHS will just stop and not process any of the files. With the functionality turned off the TV Archive functions properly and does not stall.

Many of us have been frustrated by this issue and have not a solution for getting Recorded TV to our mobile devices.

Mental note: I guess if the show did not have AC3 audio then it would work but most shows have it.

 

 

Solution

There have a been a few other options for a solution to our issue recently but none have been as easy as what you about to read about!

fasthair sent me message over the weekend saying he had found a fix for the AC3 encoding issues we have all had when trying to create compressed copies. You can read about the fix directly at:

Problems Transcoding Recorded HDTV and Window 7 Media Center TV Archive

http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2009/12/20/problems-transcoding-recorded-hdtv-and-window-7-media-center-tv-archive/

A big thank you to fasthair for finding this quick and easy solution!

AC3 Filter Installation

According to the website http://code.google.com/p/ac3filter/

“AC3Filter is a high quality free audio decoder and processor filter. It allows media players to playback movies with AC3 and DTS audio tracks. Also it can process any audio track, much of processing options allows to adjust the sound in almost any way. It is possible to upmix any audio source to 6 channels. Filter can do multi-channel and digital (SPDIF) output. It can encode any audio source to AC3 on-the-fly and send it over SPDIF to the receiver.”

The site is a part of http://ac3filter.net/ although at the time of writing this I could not access the site.

Download the file from: http://ac3filter.googlecode.com/files/ac3filter_1_63b.exe

Installation is quick and easy. Close Windows Media Center and download the file.

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Next.

AC3Filter

Click on Finish. All done!

AC3Filter

Creating a Compressed Copy Video

Below is the video for the setup.

 

File Now in Zune

If you have not already done so, map your WHS Videos folder to your Zune so you can view the compressed files immediately!

Zune Videos

I have my video files set to manual so to add it to my Zune I just right mouse-click and select Sync with jpltim30.

Zune Videos

After a couple of minutes to Sync I am ready to take my Recorded TV shows on the road!

Zune Videos

Compressed Copies and Copy Protection

If the show you are recording is NOT protected then the compressed copy is created right after the show finishes recording. I recorded the jury part of Survivor last night and WHS created my Zune file.

TV Archive

For some reason the second part of Survivor was “Copy Protected”. You can see the notation on the bottom of the screen. If a Recorded show is Copy Protected is will NOT create a compressed copy.

TV Archive

You can see my video folder has the first Survivor show but not the second copy protected show. The files are much smaller and the video quality is great.

TV Archive

Now, why one show was protected and the other was not does not make sense, but it is Charter and CBS that make that determination. Most of the shows on Charter are not protected so I can still enjoy most of my shows on Zune.

 

Conclusion

This solution works great. Thank you fasthair again for finding this easy filter for the AC3 issue. If you have not tried this functionality I would seriously suggest trying it!

See you next Friday night,

Tim

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