Microsoft looking for ways to converge Windows Mobile, Zune

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Microsoft appears to
be looking for new ways to tie Windows Mobile phones and Zune media players
together, although a Zune phone remains unlikely.

Over the weekend, Microsoft developer "Mel" asked an open
question
on the Windows Mobile blog: "What are some ways the Zune player
and a Windows Mobile device can work better together?"

Since then, over 50 commenters have suggested ways that Microsoft might converge
the two devices. The most common idea is to essentially replace the Windows
Media Player on Windows Mobile devices with Zune software.

"I proposed that WMP should be fazed out in favor of a combined WMP/Zune
player which will synch with both Windows Media AND Zune, instead of having
to have two separate apps with two different libraries for each device,"
wrote one commenter using the name Colin Walker.

Peter Henning, another commenter, also suggested making just one media player
that works on both devices. "Currently you are just making our lives much
more difficult with this parallel development and incompatibilities," he
wrote.

A single media player would solve some of the problems that other users complained
about in synching music between a Windows Mobile phone and a Zune. Another commenter
going by the name Charlie Quidnunc noted that he has to create new playlists
once he transfers music from Zune to his phone because Windows Media Player
can't read Zune playlists.

Another complained that he can't transfer music that he downloaded under his
Zune subscription plan to his Windows Mobile device because of DRM (digital
rights management) restrictions.

Offering Zune software on Windows Mobile phones could be one simple way for
Microsoft to converge the two, said Michael Gartenberg, a research director
with Jupiter Research. "There are any number of ways that Microsoft could
go about Zune integration. We might see a Zune application for Windows Mobile
devices."

But what we most likely won't see is a Zune phone, despite many Zune phone
rumors. "On one hand the Zune is a closed proprietary system not built
around a partner ecosystem," Gartenberg noted. "On the other hand
the phone business is built on a partner ecosystem." Microsoft develops
the Windows Mobile software but hardware makers build the phones. By contrast,
Microsoft develops the hardware and software for the Zune.

If Microsoft started making a Zune phone, it would compete with its phone hardware
partners. "It's the same reason we don't see a Microsoft branded PC,"
he said.

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