Wait, what about The Social?

A year and a half ago, I looked at this "Zune Social" thing, and I wondered if it would be possible to "jump in" with just my desktop PC. Having a Zune Card that was just like my Xbox Live gamercard, with a running history of the music I listened to, sounded kind of cool. Gimmicky, sure, but cool. And the fact that I already had a Zune Card simply by virtue of having a gamercard meant the cost of entry was eliminated. (I suppose this is also related to me being a sucker for features, as I had access to this feature that I wasn't using.) But in order to use it, you had to use the Zune Media Player, which, compared to Windows Media Player, was pretty lacking.

I posted a comment in the Zune forums, suggesting it might be nice just to have a WMP plug-in that updated my Zune Card with my stats from WMP. The responses I got back were rather disparaging, saying they couldn't do everything the Zune Media Player did in a mere plug-in. It was also the prevailing opinion that the Zune Social was for Zunes, and it didn't really matter what I played on my PC. (Ok, never mind the fact that I could play things in the ZMP and have it update my Zune Card.)

Back in September, they released a software update, and I decided to give it another look. In short, nothing had changed. I came to the conclusion that the Zune Social was a Zune-only club, and I would just be anti-social until I somehow acquired a Zune of my own.

Two weeks ago was E3, and Microsoft announced that Last.fm would be coming to the Xbox 360. I hadn't really looked at Last.fm before, so I signed up. Not only does it offer streaming music, but it (to quote its home page) "recommends music, videos and concerts based on what you listen to." And how does it know what you listen to? Well, obviously it can track the songs it streams to you and the ones you flag as tracks "loved" or "blocked". But it can also track songs played in Windows Media Player using a plug-in.

So here you have this third-party service that is doing exactly what I was asking for from the Zune Card. And Microsoft is integrating that service into the Xbox 360.

Oh yeah, they did also say that the Video Marketplace on the Xbox 360 would become the Zune Marketplace. But so far, they've only announced that for videos. Not music.

I don't get it.

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