I am quite disappointed at how the Zune desktop software user experience has not improved and the product groups don’t drive usability issues.
Let me give you my experience from this afternoon:
I have the Zune desktop software installed and I checked that it was up to date even though that option is hidden in a lot of settings and I had to guess a couple of times to find it.
I wanted to hear a song that was stuck in my head that I knew I had downloaded from the marketplace. I had forgotten the name of the song so I typed in some lyrics. After waiting for seven seconds some results started coming back, but none of them were the right one. After the rest of the results loaded I instead opened Internet Explorer and searched for the lyrics on Bing. The Microsoft search engine knew exactly what song I was after, but the Microsoft music software does not?
After getting the title and artist of the song I went back to the Zune desktop software, typed in the name, waiting for almost ten seconds. I had to search for it through three columns and in the “zune results” column the song name was displayed three times. Which one is it?
The screen also displayed a “collection results” area which I guess means it is on my computer? What is a “collection”? I click on the song name to play it. I am taken to another screen that shows me all of the artists and albums I have on my computer. On the right side is the name of the song along with ‘34’. Have I played it 34 times?
I click on the song, but nothing happens. I then double-click on the song. Within a few seconds there is an exclamation point in a yellow circle displayed next to the song. What does that mean? Then I start getting exclamation points in yellow circles next to other songs in the album and then a song I didn’t choose starts playing. If I had wanted to hear that song I would have chosen it. I click the song I want again and the yellow circles disappear and then reappear next to different songs. Are the other ones now good? I tried, but they don’t play either.
I also notice that some songs are in there twice. I have only gotten music from the Zune marketplace so why wouldn’t it tell me that I already had the song instead of allowing me to add it again?
I figure out that I need to hover my mouse over the yellow circle to find out what is wrong. It says “Playback error: click for more information”. I don’t understand why I got an information message to send me to another place for information. I click on the yellow circle and a box pops up saying that the Zune desktop software can’t play the song and it needs to check usage rights and to sign in. I am signed in. It is error code C00D1365. What does this scary code mean and if it needs to check usage rights then why do some songs play?
There is a link for web help so I click that. I am taken to Internet Explorer where it tells me I need to sign in on the desktop software using the account that was used to get the music. I only have one Zune account and I am signed in. I know I am signed in because the Zune desktop software shows my name in the top right corner along with my picture and how many credits I have. Web help didn’t tell me anything new and I was taken away from the software I was trying to use.
I then thought I might try to play the song in my playlist. I go to my playlist and click on the song, but it also now has a yellow circle. I hover over and a message again tells me to go somewhere else for information. This time I’m told that the Zune desktop software can’t play the song possibly because there is an outdated link on the Zune marketplace. What does that mean? I am now worried that the site will change a lot and I won’t be able to play my music.
I think that maybe the software could help me since it should know both what I have and what is on the Zune marketplace, but when I right-click the song none of the options allow me to fix the problem. I try the Properties option, but nothing happens; no dialog box appears or anything. I try it again. Again nothing happens. Is the it broken?
I finally decide I should download the song again. It has been 30 minutes so far and I was very frustrated and had almost forgotten what song I wanted to hear. I type in the title, wait a few seconds, and am again presented with the artist name three times. I click one of them and find the song. The button next to the song says download which is weird because I know I already have it. I click download and the song downloads pretty quick.
I then go to a playlist which has the song and click it, but another song starts playing and I have a yellow circle again. I don’t understand because I had just downloaded the song again. At this point I just give up and close the Zune desktop software after about 30 minutes of craziness and having to download songs I already had and taking me to other pieces of software. I still haven’t heard my song, and I’m not sure I should buy another song that I currently like; what if the website changes again?
The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind.
* Some portions excerpted or modeled after Bill Gate’s famous leaked memo which you can read here: http://gizmodo.com/5019516/classic-clips-bill-gates-chews-out-microsoft-over-xp