Though Microsoft had admitted that its Zune player would be unable to share certain songs wirelessly before the device shipped in November 2006, this week the software maker provided a few more details about this flaw. One of the Zune's key differentiators with Apple's market leading iPod device is that the Zune allows users to wirelessly share music, a feature Microsoft hoped would make the device friendlier and community-like. Microsoft calls this feature "Send," officially, though it was originally named "Squirt." The feature was widely panned by reviewers and now, it seems, it doesn't work as well as Microsoft had first promised.
"The Zune wireless sharing feature is a new experience for consumers and for the music industry," a Microsoft statement reads, detailing the companies that support it. "We will continue to make it better." Microsoft's Cesar Menendez, who works on the Zune team, provides a bit more information in a blog posting to "Zune Insider." "It's true, not every song can be sent," he writes. "The idea of Send is new, and its implementation is in a 1.0 stage. The team is continually working to improve the send technology and we're working with industry partners to expand the number of songs can be sent."
Microsoft and its music industry partners disputed rumors that record companies were specifically preventing certain songs from being shared via Zune's Send feature. Universal Music Group, infamous for requiring Microsoft to pay it a $1 royalty for each Zune sold, issued its own statement denying those rumors. "Contrary to recent and inaccurate reports, \[Universal\] has not prohibited its artists from participating in the Zune service," the statement reads. "Nor has UMG restricted the ability of Zune users to transfer their music wirelessly so that others can enjoy it."
In case it's not obvious, Microsoft still hasn't detailed which songs can't be wirelessly shared, and why that issue arises. Nor has the company detailed whether and when it plans to improve the experience. For now, it's just as much of a mystery as it was last year, though arguably the issue seems to affect a wider range of music than originally thought. According to the Zunearama blog, for example, 21 of the top 50 song downloads from Zune Marketplace cannot be shared. We do know that the problem affects only songs purchased from Zune Marketplace; songs that users rip from CDs manually can be shared universally.