Zune Digital Coffee Table Book

Zune Digital Coffee Table Book

This article was originally published 2nd August 2021 on Linkedin

Why one UK software developer is creating a digital coffee table book about Zune

For once, that's not just a click-bait headline, its true! You may or may not have heard of Zune, which was Microsoft's foray into the personal media player space. The reason you may not have heard of Zune probably answers what happened, or if you have, you'll think quite fondly of that era as I do. However, the main question is why is a software developer, who admits to themselves they are no designer wanting to create of all things, a coffee table book about Zune? Well, it may come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or meets me that I'm keen on all things Microsoft, for example I got all the Xbox consoles as soon as I could from the original Xbox to the hard to get as I write this Xbox Series X, suffice to say I'm willing to put the effort in if Microsoft is producing it!

That's where Zune comes in, back in 2006 Microsoft announced their intentions to go up against the might of Apple who had their successful iPod range at the time and others, by releasing their own digital music player and platform! I wanted one of course, even though they were never released in the UK, so it took me a while to save up enough to get one knowing it would cost even more to get it imported. However, by that time the second generation of devices were being released, so I decided to get one as soon as those came out, thanks to eBay selling new stock in the UK I was finally able to get myself a Zune 80GB model! Zune was now my go-to music device, although one would be a rare sight in the United States it would be rarer still here in the UK. I took my Zune to events and even wrote an app that allowed me to add images with details of events I was going to, as before the era of the modern smartphone this was my way of doing that! I even went to a Microsoft event where someone from Microsoft UK had a Zune and I was able to tell them how to get the most out of having one in the UK, as some of the services weren't fully available in the UK. In 2009 I made even more of an effort when the Zune HD was released, which was the last Zune device and got one via Zune Originals from Microsoft thanks to a kind person in California who bought it for me. Despite import tax and duty driving up the price even more, I loved my Zune HD and still use it from time to time to this day!

When Windows Phone was announced, a key feature would be support for Zune services, except for the Zune Social, which was a rather unique way of sharing what music you were listening to with Zune Cards, and as a software developer I couldn't let this oversight pass me by so I wrote an app that brought this to the phone, to some success with over 330,000 total downloads! I was also very active with a website covering mainly programming topics, makes sense as a software developer, but also had stuff about Zune with press releases, information, and images I'd gathered. I even attended an event in London where I asked Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, if the Zune was ever coming to the UK and he said "No, it's all about the phone now", which was the first time they'd confirmed that information, but it also signalled the beginning of the end of the Zune as a device. I was also able to add more to my website with images of Zune that were rarely seen outside of Microsoft and it is this collection of rarely seen resources that is the backbone of my vision to create a coffee table book all about Zune.

Even though the hardware was discontinued over a decade ago in 2010, after the rise of the modern smartphone spelled the end of digital music players, and not really being able to complete with Apple and the others in that space. Today there is still a passionate community who collect not only Zunes but rare pieces of merchandise and items from Microsoft. I don't have any physical Zune stuff other than my Zune 80, Zune HD and the A/V dock I got. However, when it comes to digital resources, I think I have something unique. I want to push my skills to the limit by producing this digital coffee-table book, which seems appropriate given the digital nature of my own collection of Zune items and hope this will be of interest to those who are also interested in Zune like me or are just discovering it for the first time and want to know more! That's my aim with this book to give something back to the Zune community after all this time, along with learning a few new skills along the way and maybe even adding a bit of my own experiences of Zune for the history books! My coffee-table book should be released later this year and will be free to download, for those who've never heard of Zune is a good chance to learn more and for those who know it well, a chance to see it in a hopefully new and interesting way!