New models of Microsoft's Zune media player prove that Microsoft is still Microsoft: It's one of the best companies in the world at doing the difficult job of learning from its mistakes.
The new Zunes are 4-Gbyte and 8-Gbyte Zune Nanos and an 80-Gbyte Zune Classic. They aren't called the Nano and Classic, of course -- that's what Apple calls the comparable models of the iPod. And the Zune Nano and Classic aren't even comparable to the iPod Nano and Classic. They're really very good takes on last year's Nano and Classic.
While that still leaves Microsoft playing catch up to Apple, the new Zunes do what they had to do, which is fix a lot of what was wrong with the original 30-Gbyte Zune. Where the original Zune was a plastic brick, the new Zunes are slim, sleek, sexy-to-the-touch objects. Where the original Zune had a cheap five-way rocker-switch control, the new Zunes have a touchpad that lets you scroll and set volume by sliding your finger across it, the way the iPod has taught us a player should work. Where the original Zune was wireless, but wouldn't sync wirelessly with your PC, the new Zunes do, and the setup is a breeze. Where the original Zune software didn't support RSS feeds and podcasts, the new Zunes do -- and they even call them "podcasts" in the onscreen menu, which I find very ... interesting. (Are Apple's lawyers taking the year off?)
In a year, Microsoft has learned a lot. How much? This much: last year if somebody had given me a Zune as a holiday present it would have probably wound up in a drawer. This year if somebody gives me a Zune I'd probably use it. That's a big improvement. But Microsoft still has to make an even bigger improvement if it's going to do more than just expend ego in the media player market -- next year it has to make me want to buy a Zune.
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The BI Explosion
Examine the business intelligence strategies of 500 companies, including deployment drivers and challenges, spending plans, and vendor selection, in this recent InformationWeek Research report.
Feeling Grumpy About Your Job?
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Mozilla Fixes Memory And CPU Problems In Firefox 3 Beta 1
Mozilla.org says it fixed a problem with Firefox 3 Beta 1 that caused it to spike CPU usage and eat hundreds of megabytes of RAM. The fix involved changing the configuration of a server that Firefox communicates with, so you don't have to download a new version to take advantage of it.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.