Running the Zune 80 on Apple OS X v10.5

Zune on OS X v10.5 Don’t get mad, get even.  I must say I didn’t like the “review” Ryan Block gave the new Zune today on the website.  Maybe it’s because I own an Apple iPod Video 80GB.  Maybe it’s because I own a Playstation portable (PSP).  It might be because I own the Creative Zen Vision W.  Or it could possibly be because I own the Archos 605 WIFI.  And it’s very likely because I own the Microsoft Zune 80GB player and am a Microsoft employee.  Damn straight it is.

I think I’m pretty qualified to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a portable media player.  I own many of the top players on the market and understand their nuances.  It might be that I learned to do fair and balanced evaluations of hardware and software while working at another company before joining Microsoft.  As a result, it really irks me to see Ryan rant on about how bad the Zune is.  Apparently it irked a lot of other people, too.  They turned off comments after about 130.  Nice.  Come on Ryan, there’s plenty to like and it will be a solid competitor this holiday season.  Sorry you didn’t get the Zune 80 to play with.  Come check mine out.

As you can clearly see in the picture, I am running the Zune software on my Apple MacBook Pro with Leopard.  In fact, it’s the 64 bit version of the Zune software (2.1.888 to be precise).  So it isn’t accurate to say you can’t use a Zune with an Apple computer or OS X.  If you click the pic, you’ll get the full size version and see more detail.

And for those of you that are skeptical the pic is real, trust me it is a full screen capture I did just a few minutes ago.  If you look really carefully, you can see how.  Or simply read back through my blog and you’ll figure it out.  I’ll probably get some screencast software installed to my Mac soon, then I can show ya for real.

Zune potential customers, you are going to dig the Zune software and device.  I snagged an 80GB Zune at the CircuitCity near my house this morning. I think we took an awesome step forward.  I’ll give you a serious run down on my impressions soon.  I need to do some transcoding tests first so I can take some video with me on the road. 

Read all of the reviews on the grid.  I think you’ll find the vast majority of the reviews are very very positive.  There’s a reason for that.  Oh, and before I forget, if someone spots a kewl kickstand case for my Zune 80, let me know.

Enjoy Zune!

Comments (19)

  1. Chris McQueen says:


    I would love to see how the Zune works on the Mac.  My company, TechSmith, makes a simple screencast program for the Mac called Jing.  I’m really not trying to plug our software, but I am curious about the zune/apple combo and thought it might help if you’d like to show others what you do with your Mac.

  2. Kevin Remde says:

    Great write-up Keith.  

    Man.. you have two things (well, three if you count the new 80gb Zune) that I really would like to have:

    1. An apparently unlimited amount of cash for buying toys and gadgets (someday when my kids are grown and moved out and done with college… look out!), and

    2. A lack of the need for sleep.  Dude.. you gotta shut your eyes once in awhile, don’tcha?


  3. Keith Combs says:

    Yea, I’ve spent a little too much on gadgets but I like them.  Everyone needs a hobby.  And since I’ve had several, I know a $300 device every six months isn’t that bad.

    And Kevin, we’ve had the sleep discussion before.  You get up at 6am.  For gods sake man, sleep til 9 or 9:30 like the rest of us.  Then you can stay up past 10pm and play Halo 3 after all the kiddies have gone to bed.

    Chris, thanks of the offer.  I’m been meaning to checkout your Mac goodies.  I am very familiar with your company.  Camtasia is a tool I use nearly every week on Windows.  I have pretty good connections as a result.  Don’t worry about plugging TechSmith, it’s ok.  They are good people.  

  4. Amit says:

    Forgive me for being naive but is that running natively or through Parallels/VMWare Fusion? I’m anxiously waiting to replace iTunes on my iMac.

  5. Keith Combs says:

    It’s running via VMWare Fusion.  I have Fusion running in its "Unity" mode so the application looks as if it is running native.

    Now before anyone gets all upset, please consider the question, "Does it matter?"  Some will say it does, and others will take the opposite view point.

    The downside is that you must install and run a VM with the appropriate Windows prerequisites for the Zune software.  

    And for those of you windering how much music you could load via this method, the obvious first limit is the 80GB hard drive of my Zune.  The second limit will be the max possible virtual hard drive space in a Fusion VM.  I need to check on that.  I don’t know the answer at the moment.  That limit will be important if you are considering the "all you can eat" Zune pass.

  6. Amit says:

    Yeah I figured as much. Obviously, I’m hoping for a native version, but that can work for now. I don’t have 10.5 yet, so I can’t set this up, but any chance you can get the Apple Remote to work with it? I know there is some freeware out there that’s let you customize the Apple Remote for different applications, but I don’t know if it works across VMWare.

  7. Glenn Fincher says:

    Keith, you sir are wicked! I’m sure that some of our brethren at Microsoft find it hard to accept that you would even dare to own, much less use all those non-MS gadgets & software!  I, for one, am glad you do!

    Now… if I could just find one of those elusive Zune 80’s somewhere! For now.. my Zune 30 is loving the new firmware goodness!

  8. Ky says:

    While the hardware looks splendid, what stops me from picking one of these up is the lack of East Asian language support, as I live in Korea. Can you put in a word for that?

  9. Keith Combs says:

    Ky, are you talking about the Zune?  I’ll assume so.  Our international launch plans are need-to-know and I don’t work for the Zune team so I don’t know squat.

    I would imagine they have localization plans for more languages and markets.  We’ll see.

  10. Darryl Burling says:

    On the space issue – you can set up a UNC share in the Zune library settings and store all your music remotely – this gets around local storage issues, but at the price of tying you to a server.

    However, I use this combo at home with WHS and it works great.

  11. Ronald says:

    I am not going to run a VM just to have a Zune. That’s a little silly. And very un-Mac like anyway. And you need a copy of Windows, and you need an Intel Mac. So, why not get an iPod if you are an OS X user? Is there anything really compelling in the Zune that you have to waste more space with Windows, and Fusion?

    C’mon now, your post just seems like a rant in response to another rant.

    Did your Microsoft overlords make you write this article? Of course, it appears you didn’t put your iPod into the amnesty box:

  12. Keith Combs says:

    Yea, it was definitely a rant to a rant.  Or at least that’s how it started.  After I got over that, I thought it was just an interesting technical experiment.  You are right, I seriously doubt many people will do this unless of course they must run a Windows application, and they already have a Zune.

    It was fun doing it.  It certainly looks cool with Unity.

    One thing to think about however, as the virtualization environments evolve, wouldn’t it be nice to have applications run without having to install the full OS like Windows or OS X?

    The next decade is going to be interesting…

  13. Keith Combs says:

    Ha ha ha.  I just followed the link to the iPod bin.  Put a $350 iPod Video 80GB device in there?  No way, you think I’m stupid?  I’d sell it first.

    No, the Microsoft overlords didn’t make me write it.  The only time I’ve been asked to write anything is if we have some new utility or product come out and they would like me to post something.

    The iPod I have was purchased for one reason initially.  I purchased it to figure out how to podcast, get stuff posted to the iTunes catalog, sync podcasts and webcasts to it, etc.  Being the video enthusiast I am, that was a natural part of the testing.

    I like the Apple products.  I’ll buy an Apple iPod Touch when the storage capacity gets to 60GB or greater.  And I’ll write about the Pro’s and Con’s when it happens.  If it kicks the Zune in the teeth, it will be in the article.  As it should be.

  14. Austin Chang says:

    i am tryin to run the zune instal and it gives me an error message about ordinal 128 cannot be located in dynamic link library msi.dll. how would i go about fixing this?

  15. Cody Jones says:

    I find this topic very hard to believe seeing how i have a 30 gb Zune and a brand new MacBook Pro and the program will not run because Macs only recognizes .dmg and very few other file types as applications. Also i’ve looked on the Zune website and they do not offer the Zune software for OS X, OS X Leopard, etc. So the only why you could possibly run the Zune software on OS X is if you reprogram the programing. And i doubt you could read the C+ language, let alone any other.

  16. Keith Combs says:

    Cody, Don’t be a smart ass. I was a professional programmer for 15 years and have coded in many languages including assembler, C and C++.

    How I did it is in the comments.  It’s called virtualization.

  17. Larry says:

    I just ran across this even though it’s a few months late.  I just bought a Zune because the value compared to an iPod Classic is outstanding.  But whenever the iPod Touch reaches better storage capacity, I’ll be buying that.  But it makes me mad that Microsoft won’t release a marketplace version for OS X.  I was going to buy a MacBook Pro until I learned of this.  Now I’m not sure what type of computer I’m getting for college.

  18. Keith Combs says:

    Yea, I totally understand your frustration Larry.  I would like to see a OS X version of the Zune software, too.  Nobody in their right mind would do what I did in this post unless they had applications they MUST run on Windows.  The picture is Windows Vista running the Zune software via VMWare Fusion "Unity" mode.  Unity mode basically hides all of the Windows Vista stuff except the running application.  In this case it’s the Zune software application.  The other reason this is possible is because Fusion supports USB connections.

    I did not test this extensively and do not know what problems might crop up.  If you buy a Mac, it would probably make more sense to use an iPod, for now.

    I will pass this feedback to the Zune development team but don’t hold your breath unless you look good in blue. :?)  

  19. R. Bloodworth says:

    A lot of us run 10.5 on our Power PC based G5’s

    Sorry Zune. Make nice and work with itunes and I’d buy one tommorrow. The ipod classic is so bad that  gen 5.5 ipods with lower capacity are selling for twice the price of a new classic on amazon.