According to Podcasting News, early reviews are in on the Microsoft Zune, which debuts today. The consensus is: the Zune zucks.

The Zune has benefited from a tremendous amount of buzz. Unfortunately, it appears that Microsoft’s second attempt at an iPod/iTunes killer suffers seriously in comparision to its 5th generation competition.

  • Engadget has a blow-by-blow walkthrough of installing the Zune software, saying that Installing the Zune sucked.
  • PC World says it’s a good first effort, but the Zune’s features don’t seem compelling enough to make it a serious threat to take a big chunk out of iPod sales.
  • Popular Mechanics calls the Zune “the husky, ugly cousin of the iPod”.
  • Gizmodo says the brown Zune looks like it’s made of swamp water jello. We’re not sure what that means, but it sounds ugly.
  • USA Today says “it’s no iPod.” Reviewer Edward C. Baig adds “I’d like to see more offerings in the store, and less stringent wireless restrictions. And Microsoft should rethink the silly points system. For now, I’m sticking with iPod.”
  • The New York Times review, by David Pogue, agrees, noting that a list of things that iPods do that Zunes don’t could stretch to Steve Ballmer’s house and back 10 times.
  • SeattlePI’s review is one of more the positive reviews, but concludes, “We hate to send a Dear Zune after such a brief courtship, but at the end of the night there is no doubt who we’re going to go home with” (an iPod).
  • WSJ’s Walt Mossberg liked several aspects of the Zune, but concludes that the “first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users.”
  • Business Week calls the Zune “a dismal failure“.

While the first generation Zune has failed to impress most reviewers, Microsoft is already talking about updates to the Zune software and upgraded Zune hardware. It’s likely that Microsoft will make frequent updates to the Zune system in the next year, until it has a platform that has mass-market potential.

I could agree more. I am sticking with my 6 or 7 iPods.

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