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Zune Team Getting Amnesty for iPod Use 303

MsManhattan writes "The Zune development team at Microsoft is apparently offering amnesty to employees who give up their iPods in favor of using the Zune MP3 player. An MSNBC employee has posted a photo on Flickr of the company's 'iPod Amnesty Bin,' which sports an image of a bitten green apple and the words 'Bite me.' Whether it's to be taken seriously or is a joke to boost employee morale is anyone's guess, and naturally no one at Microsoft was available for comment. From what can be seen in the photo, only a few early-model iPods have been deposited."
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Zune Team Getting Amnesty for iPod Use

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  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:45PM (#19272859) Journal

    I saw the new ad by Microsoft (on American Idol, at least they're finally picking a demographic):

    Still, Microsoft is ramping up its marketing efforts around Zune in the hopes it can drum up interest in the device. The company released a pink Zune earlier this month that is outselling Zunes in white and brown, according to the company, and also launched a new print advertising campaign to promote the pink Zune called "Sync Pink." Microsoft also introduced a new TV commercial that highlights the features of Zune that differentiate it from the iPod, such as wireless sharing and the FM radio tuner.

    I asked my wife to view the ad (tivo), as I suspected the "uploading one song" (tune?, track?, can't remember) on one Zune screen, and the "downloading one song" on the screen of a Zune behind the first did not convey the "sharing" notion. Sure enough, when asked, she said "of course" she understood -- it was demonstrating how a Zune could upload and download music from the computer wirelessly (something I don't even think it really is capable of).

    I explained what it really demonstrated, and she thought that was kind of cool, but I told her she'd have to

    • encounter a fellow Zuner within fifty feet of her (unlikely)
    • could only play the shared tune 3 times OR
    • within 3 days, whichever came first
    • live with drm encumbered music
    All of which she says (said) "ewwwwww!" to, and not in a good way. Zune is hardly a product that lights a fire under any consumers' desires.
    • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:51PM (#19272965)
      Well some people might buy one based on the adverts, but they likely wouldn't buy again.

      Especially given microsofts constant habit of forcing uupgrades.

      Apple do constant upgrades too, but my trusty old generation 3 iPod is still going strong in linux via Amarok. It works with the latest iTunes software too, but that's frankly not a very good peice of software, so I don't use it.
      • by soupd ( 1099379 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:56PM (#19273039)
        And anybody who bought into Microsoft's 'Plays For Sure' DRM, which Zune doesn't support, is surely going to think twice before picking a Zune over an iPod.
        • ...not that Apple are really much better when it comes to the whole DRM issue. Not to mention the whole iTunes lock-in issue which I really don't understand how they are still getting past the competition regulators with. Particularly here in Europe where regulators are normally quite strict about that sort of thing (as Microsoft can vouch for!).

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by soupd ( 1099379 )
            Well I don't think you'll find anybody here who views DRM as anything less than evil, however as of yet Apple have yet to arbitrarily drop support for it's FairPlay DRM system, Microsoft actually did this with the Zune by ignoring it's earlier DRM mechanism.

            Further to this, Apple's FairPlay2 (the current implementation of it's iTunes DRM) really doesn't cause me any problems, there are multi-platform tools to remove the FairPlay2 DRM from your purchased tracks, it only gets tricky when your trying to break

          • by NiceGeek ( 126629 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:51PM (#19273991)
            How many times does it have to be said? The DRM on music purchased from iTunes is the fault of the record labels not Apple. Apple is trying to get the lables to buy in on non-DRM music. The "iTunes lock-in" is FUD plain and simple.
            • by Rycross ( 836649 )
              Ok, so in Apple's case, the DRM is the fault of the RIAA. Why is the same reasoning not applied to Microsoft? After all, Bill Gates also publicly came out against DRM too. Seems like there's a double standard going on here.
              • I think the point made a few posts up was that people are angry with MS not because of DRM in general, but because they pushed the "Plays for Sure" DRM initiative, which had two problems:

                a) It didn't really "play for sure" even on devices that were theoretically compatible and supported
                b) After heavily marketing PlaysForSure, Microsoft made their very first self-branded media player incompatible with it. Not just "claimed compatibility that doesn't work" but explicitly "not compatible".

                As much as Apple's DRM sucks, at least one thing can be said about it - It's compatible with every iPod ever released since Apple started using that DRM technology, and as far as anyone can tell will continue to be compatible with all future iPods. Yes, you're locked in to Apple hardware, but at least you don't have to rebuy your music every time Apple releases a new iPod, whereas Microsoft's track record with compatibility is awful, even between different versions of their own products.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by metrometro ( 1092237 )
              The "iTunes lock-in" is FUD plain and simple. Huh? As a reasonably savvy non-expert, I can't update my iPod without loading my entire music library into iTunes. Likewise, any playlists have to be created/imported through iTunes. No uncertainly there - I'm locked in. And I don't have the energy to manage a library in two systems, so now all my PC music is through iTunes. And iTunes kind of sucks.
            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by malsdavis ( 542216 )
              Jee's that makes it nice and convenient for Apple doesn't it, "It's all the big, bad music industry's fault, we don't want to have to charge you again for music you already bought on CD, honest" ...yea right.

              And don't you realise that the only reason Apple would like to offer DRM-free music is so they can use it as an excuse to increase prices and hence their profit margin. As always though, Steve Jobs will constantly blame the music industry for a situation which Apple profits from.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Rycross ( 836649 )
          Yes, because all that "Plays For Sure" music will work just fine on an iPod. Err, wait....
          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
            Play for sure is from Microsoft.
            Zune is from Microsoft.
            IPod is from Apple. I could be wrong but don't even the first Gen iPods work with the current iTunes?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Rycross ( 836649 )
              My point was if having a catalog of "Plays For Sure" music represents a significant barrier for switching to Zune, then it would also represent a significant barrier towards switching to an iPod. A customer isn't going to go, "Hmmm, well I could buy a Zune, but I have all this Plays For Sure music that doesn't work on it... I guess I'll buy an iPod."
              • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
                I think the original post that started this thread had a user thought process like this:

                "I need to upgrade my media player. It looks like I'm going to have to rebuy my music, this sucks. Fuck you Microsoft, at least I can be fairly comfortable that if I switch to iPod it'll be the last time I have to rebuy my music if I stick with Apple, as opposed to a clear track record of compatibility breaks even between devices from the same vendor."
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Rycross ( 836649 )
                  I can see that line of reasoning.

                  Of course you also have freaks like me who'd just buy the CDs and rip instead.
        • by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:31PM (#19274545) Homepage Journal
          Somehow, I don't think the sets "people who think twice" and "people who buy Zune" share any meaningful intersection.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mugnyte ( 203225 )

          Exactly - MS's ad campaigns are battling...MS prior customers! Most people I see with a Zune tell me not to get one..they don't use the over-Pod features. Additionally, when they want to share some music.. they talk about simply giving me a thumbdrive to copy. WTF is MS thinking...Zune's DRM makes it DOA - as judged by MS's own Zune owners!

    • Then, she might have liked it. The great unwashed masses just might buy it - not that I'm commenting on your wife's personal hygiene. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      All of which she says (said) "ewwwwww!" to, and not in a good way

      Does anyone ever say ewwww in a good way?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by slashwritr ( 1009921 )
      This was a a pretty creepy commercial--it reminded me of a cemetery, with Zunes as headstones. Everything's quiet...and then it turns into Night of the Living Dead.
  • Uptake ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:46PM (#19272873) Journal
    So, according to a manager at Redmond [wired.com], there are ~16,000 iPods at MS-HQ. From looking at that bin, they've managed to get about 0.1% of those people to "upgrade" to a zune...

    I especially love the employee who gained brownie-points by putting something (anything!) in the ipod-bin, even if it was only an iPod *cover* [huge grin]. I wonder if Steve (that's Balmer, in case of confusion) was watching him walk on by, and he thought he had to put *something* in...

    If MS can only get 0.1% of their *own* people to switch, they ain't gonna make it too big in the far more neutral marketplace...


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From the date of that article, that figure is from more than two years ago. I'm sure the total number of iPods on campus is much, much higher now.
    • Re:Uptake ? (Score:5, Funny)

      by jeffasselin ( 566598 ) <(cormacolinde) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:57PM (#19273055) Journal

      Steve (that's Balmer, in case of confusion)
      I just call him Uncle Fester. No confusion with that name.
    • You're assuming that those are iPods that were used to "upgrade" to Zunes. For all we know, those are old, crappy (possibly broken) iPods that have been replaced with the newest iPod and therefore have no practical use to the owner. Might as well put them in some bin at Microsoft than into a landfill, especially if they still work! Then the person can just sit back and smirk while listening to the newest DRM-free files that were purchased from iTunes last night. :)
      • Damn it. I read too quickly and completely missed your "even if it was only an iPod *cover* [huge grin]" comment.

        I'll just blame it on the fact that it's the Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend. :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mockylock ( 1087585 )
      I know of 4 people that ditched their iPods when they gave up on them in the past 7 months. It doesn't necessarily mean people are "switching" due to a new product, but more along the lines of not ditching an existing product simply because it's an "IPod" and it works for what they use it for.

      Yesterday, a woman I work with asked me for help with her iPod because it prompted her to reset all the software on it, and it was the 4th time she had to do it. She asked me for a different alternative and I told
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 )

      So, according to a manager at Redmond, there are ~16,000 iPods at MS-HQ. From looking at that bin, they've managed to get about 0.1% of those people to "upgrade" to a zune...
      I may be wrong, but I think the Zune team is down in Mountain View, CA, which is where the box is.

      I may hate the iPod, but I'm not going to go from Redmond to Mountain View just to throw it out.
      • As far as I know it's the MBU (Mac Business Unit) that lives in Mountain View (great place, btw - I lived there for a year :-), and they all threatened to resign when MS wanted to move them up to Redmond - MS wanting to consolidate everyone to one location.

        I did a quick search, and I can't find anything linking the Zune to Mountain View. I did find the blog [live.com] of a Zune tester who apparently lives in Washington ("I was at the Rascal Flatts concert in Tacoma, Washington on Sunday.")

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by teknopurge ( 199509 )
      if you look really close you can see that someone parted with an iPod protector - not even willing to part with the real thing....
    • I worked as a contractor at an MS office around 2002 or so. I remember seeing a few iPods there and I had iTunes loaded on my machine that I used to listen to streaming audio. (I also used firefox exclusively, including on MS's internal web based apps, most of which worked fine) I think at one point my boss came over and I was showing him a web page that I had open in firefox and he didn't say anything about it. (He was a brother of a VP out at Microsoft). The other side of our floor had a section of G5 Ma
  • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:48PM (#19272909) Journal
    General Motors is granting amnesty to all employees who trade in their Acura TL for a Chevy Malibu.

    Also, Nokia is granting amnesty to all employees who trade in their Nintendo DS for an N-Gage.

    Interestingly, there has been an increase in the number of Acura TLs driven by GM lower management...
  • Tips (Score:3, Insightful)

    by N3Roaster ( 888781 ) <nealw&acm,org> on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:48PM (#19272917) Homepage Journal
    Those early model iPods weren't put there by real employees giving up iPods. It's like a tip jar. You always start it out with a little in there to give people the idea.

    Disclaimer: I own neither an iPod nor a Zune. I have an off brand music player.
  • A bin that looks like an apple and says "Bite me!". Unless a lawyer pops out and bites in return while serving a pink slip, I'm afraid I don't view how this can look serious to anyone else.
  • act quickly (Score:5, Funny)

    by jcgf ( 688310 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:51PM (#19272969)
    Isn't this a bit like trading in your mercedes for a cavalier and the ability to hear your friends tales of where he has been with his cavalier? Doesn't sound like a very good deal to me.
    • by joe 155 ( 937621 )
      If I had the ability to trade iPods for Zunes I'd be pretty happy - VERY old iPod on eBay? £20. New Zune? flog on eBay for about £50... thats a good deal.

      If I could buy and sell turds for that price I'd be happy, let alone a Zune!
  • Zune development team confirms: Zune bites!
  • Corporate welfare? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aero6dof ( 415422 ) <aero6dof@yahoo.com> on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:55PM (#19273025) Homepage
    I'm missing something here. Why would anyone deposit a few hundred dollars worth of hardware into essentially a trash bin for the sake of an anonymous show of company loyalty?
  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:56PM (#19273043) Homepage
    ....DOA or broken. Otherwise, the bin would have been pilfered.
    • ....DOA or broken. Otherwise, the bin would have been pilfered.

      Well, except for the DV camera sitting in front of it ...
      • Haven't you seen Speed [imdb.com]? There are ways around that, especially when there's a bucket full of free ipods at stake.
  • Make a better Zune (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PackMan97 ( 244419 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:57PM (#19273069) Homepage
    I would think that the Zune team should be working on making a better mp3 player instead of trying to guilt trip MS employees into giving up their iPods.

    Heck, it should be mandatory for every single employee on the Zune team to have an iPod just so they know what the best in breed mp3 player looks like.
  • by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <giles.jones@ze n . c o.uk> on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:58PM (#19273077)
    Maybe if Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and others actually asked their employees what they like about the iPod and why they don't own a Zune then they would learn something.

    But instead they are too arrogant to realise their product isn't good enough.
  • None of these devices interest me anymore. I used to own a 30gb iPod video.

    The screen died after two months. The backlight wouldn't turn on anymore.

    Instead of getting a new iPod (ebay to me: gg) I recently purchased an HTC Hermes (Cingular 8525) for slightly more than the cost of a new iPod.

    It's serves as my:

    -Mp3 player (I have 8gb of storage and I'm telling you, when I pick the songs I really want, instead of the thousands I don't care about at all, I have PLENTY of storage)
    -Digital camera for everyday use (if I want greater than 1600x1200 I use my Canon, usually 1600x1200 is plenty)
    -Cell phone
    -PDA running windows mobile; it synchronizes all my appointments and reminds me in advance of upcoming birthdays/holidays
    -Instant Messenger and e-mail (has built-in WiFI G)

    I got all that for trading the storage space for movies on a 2.5" screen and music that I am constantly hitting next to get to a better song.

    Please tell me, for pure mp3 players/storage devices, where's the appeal now?

    • I understand the convenience of carrying around an "all-in-one" gadget as you've described, but I know many people on whom this would be wasted. Example? Me.

      I don't want a cell phone or a portable e-mail / IM device. I don't like the idea of being that accessible and when I'm out, I want to be disconnected from the phone / cyberworld. Furthermore, whenever I look as a curiosity at cell phone plans up here in Canada, the price and lack of service amazes me. I can't believe people are willing to pay those kin
      • don't like the idea of being that accessible and when I'm out, I want to be disconnected from the phone / cyberworld.

        Hey, I'm the same way. When I don't want to be bothered I turn on flight mode with two clicks. Problem solved. It saves battery too.

        I also don't need a PDA; my head organizes my appointments just fine...

        I don't know how many appointments/birthdays/holidays/etc you have to remember, but I have at least a hundred per year. And that number is growing. I'm no mnemonic genius either, so I ap

    • Please tell me, for pure mp3 players/storage devices, where's the appeal now?

      Not running WinCE? Ne'er so appropriate a name has been attached to a piece of software.

      I have an iPaq and I found WinCE to be a horrible, horrible operating system. No fucking way I would want it on a phone.

      If you're happy, that's great. But I found a WinCE PDA to be a crap media player.

      • You mean Windows Mobile 5? This is not WinCE of old.

        My experience thus far with WM:
        - I can run multiple applications at once, such as Media Player, Excel Mobile, Internet Explorer, etc with no noticable slowdown until I really get out of hand. Which, honestly, is to be expected. The same goes for using a PC.
        - The device has only locked up 2 times since I've had it, and both times I can't honestly attribute it to the OS. Seemed more like a hardware lock because both times it happened I pressed a sequence
        • The beauty: Your choice.

          Actually, what I chose was the RAZR V3i, because I seldom use a mp3 player, but I want one. And for the car, rather than getting an iPod and a dock adapter for my stereo, I bought a JVC DVD player that plays mp3 off of a DVD-ROM (in UDF-bridge format.) It's pretty crappy, but it was a much cheaper solution (my last stereo had died so it had to be replaced anyway) and I don't need to carry another item back and forth between home and car. Just drop in a disc, and it will read rewrita

    • by LMacG ( 118321 )

      constantly hitting next to get to a better song.

      How is your (seemingly poor) selection of songs the fault of the playback device?
      • You missed my point. My playback device is not at fault. I just find that if I make a playlist I truly like then it fits in a 4gb chip with ease. It's not that the iPod is doing something wrong, it's just providing me more than I need, and more than I'll ever use. So I turned the excess into useful functions and combined them all into one device.

        I'm extremely happy with it.

    • No Warranty? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by green pizza ( 159161 )
      > The screen died after two months.
      > The backlight wouldn't turn on anymore.

      What about the warranty? Didn't Apple honor it? You should have at least had Apple fix the iPod under warranty so you could sell it on eBay. The semi-recent iPod Video models fetch a good amount of money on eBay!

      Heck, I'll take your dead iPod if you don't want it.
      • Honestly, I was so disgusted I didn't even bother. But you're right, that's a couple hundred bucks I threw away.

        I still have it.. it's probably out of warranty now (dunno how long the man. warr. is). Maybe I'll send it in anyway and put the money in savings for the new GPS-enabled device I want to get next.

  • poor devs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blhack ( 921171 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:05PM (#19273189)
    I really do feel bad for the Devs working on the zune. It must be tough to have the skills, the money, and the facilities to create something really really truly cool....but be held back by the fact that you "cool new toy" won't be allowed by upper management for fear of lawsuit. I mean, imagine if the zune didn't have the DRM built into the wireless song swap feature....that is just really really damn cool! I mean, imagine sitting in your cube, and talking to that cute girl across the row about some song that she should just oh so totally have, and then being able to just go "HERE!" and give it to her!! I would imagine that if the zune caught on, some cool linux dev would probably make a "zune server" or something like that, similar to the mt-daapd projectf (to make iTunes think that your linux box is sharing a song library with it), but for the wireless functionality of the zune.

    THAT would be freaking cool.

    FYI..i don't work for microsoft...i know that sounded like an ad for the zune or something...I own an iPod in fact. I'm just saying, keep in mind that the engineers I'm sure are working on this device aren't evil RIAA lawyers, they're geeks. It must just really really really suck to not be able to put all the cool features i'm sure you would want into a project that you're working on...

    • I mean, imagine sitting in your cube, and talking to that cute girl across the row about some song that she should just oh so totally have, and then being able to just go "HERE!" and give it to her!!
      But you still wouldn't get laid, so what's the use?
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:14PM (#19273315) Homepage
    That the few iPods in the bin were purchased on E-bay and planted in the box. After all, an empty box would be an embarrassment by itself, and MS has a track record of manufacturing its own fans. [slashdot.org]
  • After all, as poorly regarded in the marketplace the Zune seems to be, it's quite apparent that Microsoft is semi-serious about making the Zune a "player" in the market. In order to do this, Microsoft needs to at least get their own people using their own companies' product, and if they have to use cult mentality to do it to overcome the fact that no thinking person would at this point choose a Zune over an iPod, then that's what they need to do. If Microsoft's own people don't use the Zune on a daily basis
  • I'm offering amnesty to all slashdot readers. You can mail me your username/password.
  • They're all new (Score:2, Informative)

    Look at them! They're all the current generation, and the backs of them still look quite shiney. Brand new iPods, probably purchased for filler, like the tip jar of a worthless cashier having a few dollar bills in it.
  • OK, where is it so I can go dumpster diving. I will keep the best one and sell the rest on EBay!
  • Does Microsoft actually have a company policy which prohibits staff from owning an iPod such that they would need an "amnesty"?

  • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:44PM (#19273849)
    "Most of the people [working on] Zune would want to have an iPod to keep track of the competition,"

    That's right, how can you copy your competitor if you don't have any of their products on hand? Oops, did I say "copy"? I meant "compete with".. my bad..
  • This is far from a new tactic amongst companies; Attempt to drum up company morale with a "special offer" stressing the "loyalty to your company". I've seen this in a variety of industries (granted, mostly service providers) where employees are offered an additional discount if they are switching from a competitor to the companies service.

    The funny thing about most such projects is to those with any marketing exposure, it comes across as the most annoying angle. If a certain product or service is cheaper/be
  • there are alot of Microsoft employees and by distributing the Zune to as many as possible, they can then put out a press release showing a sharp increase in usage. ;-)

  • The Zune Counter (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) <deprecated@nOSPaM.ema.il> on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:07PM (#19274201) Journal

    After the Zune was released, I decided to go counting how many people would actually buy it. My target was where my internship was: New York. This would be a fairly easy time killer; many New York commuters have some sort of MP3 player, so it shouldn't be too hard to at least get a raw estimate and ballpark a real-world value from there.

    Since it's release, I only counted TWO people who had a Zune. TWO. Out of the HUNDREDS of people that I have seen while commuting every weekday to work, and out of the HUNDREDS of iPods (various generations) I have seen on those commuters, I have only seen TWO people carry a Zune. Furthermore, I have yet to really see a Zune make Page 1 of your advertisements. It's usually pretty deeply hidden, unlike its competitor.

    Another interesting place to confirm this is eBay. If I had to ballpark a value for the average price of a Zune there, I would have to say it was somewhere around the upper $210-lower $220 range. Check here. [ebay.com] However, the average price of iPods is noticeably higher. Check here. [ebay.com]

    In short, I think that this iDumpster, while it might surface as a joke, is just to remind the Zune developers that they have quite a bit of work to do before they even expect to see people actually flocking to this device. This is just my honest opinion.

  • Amnesty is a legal state in which you are granted a proactive pardon for certain crimes. That is, we know that you have committed crimes but we guarantee not to prosecute you or penalize you legally according to some means. For example, many small-time drug dealers have been offered Amnesty for their (comparatively minor) crimes in exchange for information about their suppliers. More recently justice department official were granted amnesty for crimes including hiring people by political affiliation, ill
  • by Tarkwyn ( 130064 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @05:39PM (#19276261)
    ... was this interesting bin: http://flickr.com/photos/tarkwyn/513911705/ [flickr.com]

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"