I am a big fan of the Zune Desktop application, and for the most part it works pretty flawlessly.
For the most part.
Except when it comes to podcasts for some reason.
I have been using Zune Desktop for the better part of six to eight months, and it has totally replaced my use of Windows Media Player 12, which contrary to popular biased opinion was one of the best versions of the media software.
When it comes to music and videos Zune is topnotch and playback of podcasts is of equal caliber, but where Zune is falling down when it comes to podcasts is the acquisition of video and audio feeds as well as the managing of those feeds you do have.
I’ll get to the acquisition part in a minute as it apparently is partially affected by your location i.e.: outside of the U.S.; but when it comes to the downloading of feeds it seems that Zune loses its mind, or at least can’t keep track of what it has downloaded.
Here is one example of what my list of This Week in Tech looks like:
Notice all the dupes?
And it doesn’t seem to be a feed problem as I have this same thing happen in just about all my feeds as this example from the Buzz Out Loud feed shows:
Sure I can delete the entries, once I have marked them as listened to, but seriously, I shouldn’t have to.
Granted, this is really a minor problem, and probably one that is easily fixed, but after having to put up with this over the last six months or so; during which Zune Desktop has been updated twice, it has gotten to become a real irritation.
As minor as this irritation might be, it is nothing compared to the headache that trying to get podcast feeds, primarily through the Zune subscription button or even more so through the Zune marketplace itself.
Now, to be fair, this is probably not the same experience that Zune users in the U.S. have but that doesn’t change the fact that the Zune Marketplace, and Zune podcast subscriptions, are a pain in the ass to the rest of the world; and this isn’t going to help Microsoft grow its media efforts at all.
First up – Zune subscriptions for podcasts
When you typically click on a iTunes or even a straight RSS feed button for a subscription, your default reader/player is launched so that you can add the subscription. In the case of a podcast with an iTunes subscription button, your installed iTunes software will launch. In the case of a standard RSS podcast button either your RSS reader or whatever player you have associated for playing podcasts will launch letting you finish subscribing and downloading the newest podcast.
Not so Zune Desktop outside of the U.S.
Using the Zune Insider site as an example you can see the link to subscribe using Zune at the bottom of the sidebar.
Yup, that’s it. The main page of Zune.net where the only parts of the marketplace that is available is Video i.e.: TV and Movies. No podcast, no library, no social, nada, nothing.
Come on Microsoft. You want those of us in the rest of the world to be able to use your services, but you keep screwing it up. You have already made it difficult for users outside of the U.S. to be able to buy what little they can both on Zune and Xbox Live by removing the same PayPal option that U.S. users have. You have removed features like Smart DJ that is available to U.S. users – which is partially understandable – but when your main portal to the Zune service is cut off at the knees like this why should we bother?
The thing is, I want to buy stuff through Zune. I want to use Zune for all my podcast, video and audio, needs. I want to be able to brag about how good the service is but damn man you are making it really hard.
[Cross-posted at Winextra]