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Zune Software 4.0 Features


What's new in the latest Zune software release (version 4.0)?


On September 15th 2009, coinciding with the release Zune HD, Microsoft released version 4.0 of the Zune software. Four new features are included as part of this update that are worth noticing.

1. Quickplay

The quickplay screen is the new software homescreen. It's black instead of the white we're used to. (But the rest of the software remains white.)

The Quickplay screen surfaces your new and recently accessed media items.

It looks like the top of a messy desk providing easy access to your music and videos. It has 5 sections.

Welcome - provides access to your collection or to the Zune marketplace.

New - shows you the media you recently added to your collection. This is great with the Zune pass since you'll be downloading so much music that you'll forget what you downloaded!

History - shows you which items from your collection you referenced recently.

Pins - is like a list of favorites. Choose any item from your collection or the Zune marketplace and "pin" it to your quickplay screen as a shortcut.

Smart DJ mix - is a list of "smart DJs" just waiting to spin music for you. Create new smart DJs right from the quickplay screen. (More on smart DJ below.)

2. Smart DJ

Now this is a really cool feature...

Smart DJ knows how to create custom playlists from your collection. Choose an artist you like and smart DJ will create a playlist of similar music.

Smart DJ
Smart DJ creates a custom playlist based on any artist you choose.

Where it becomes really cool is in combination with the Zune pass. If you have a Zune pass, smart DJ reaches out into the 6 million+ songs in the Zune marketplace to create your playlist.

What a way to discover new music! I've discovered some great new bands this way.

Smart DJ + Zune pass = Ecstasy!

3. Mini-playerMini Player

The new Zune software comes with a mini-player mode.  When in this mode, the Zune player conveniently shrinks and sits on top of all other windows on your computer.

Mini does not equal wimpy. In this mode you still see album art, band photos, time remaining, the song, album, artist and the next 3 songs in the playlist.

And you have access to the play/pause, skip and previous buttons. Plus you can even mute the player. Neat!

4. Zune Toolbar

When you minimize the new Zune software, it gives you the option to minimize into the Zune toolbar mode. The software will minimize into the taskbar but it still gives you access to the play/pause, skip and previous buttons.

Plus you can rate the songs from here too!

In addition to these four new features there are some minor look and feel changes that you may not even notice.

Oh, before I forget, you must download the new Zune software to keep your older Zune syncing with your computer and to access the Zune marketplace with your Zune pass.

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