Dead projects and products by Microsoft and Google

Originally published at: Dead projects and products by Microsoft and Google | Boing Boing


Nothing about Ms. Dewey?

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A favorite memory from the zune era


The biggest blow for me in this regard was the shuttering of Google Reader. I’m still not sure what the rationale was behind that decision – money alone doesn’t explain it.


I’m not going to lie; I really liked my Zune back in the day. The interface to add songs to it wasn’t very elegant, but had they done better with that it could have been a good product…


100% agree. Google Reader was amazing, and the death of it felt like it violated Google’s “Do No Evil” claim from their code of conduct (assuming Gizmodo’s reporting is accurate, of course: Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code of Conduct). Feedly does a decent job replacing it, but still.


I have to say, I still think the Zune UI - which went on to become the Windows Phone interface - was marvellous.

I still miss Windows Phone, its minimalism, elegant fonts and the idea of tiles. Even today iOS is a huge step backwards when you just want to see something at a glance.

I wonder how much damage was done to the brand by shipping the initial units in that rather queasy shade of brown - which was inevitably going to get mocked in the press; and the use of the word ‘squirt’ to zap music between Zunes. By the time the later metallic Zunes came along, the brand was already tainted.


I had one and it was great.

The PC side software was definitely not great. But very useful as a free, light weight (if limited) transcoder for audio and video files. Came in tons of handy when I still worked in video.


I miss Picasa and ICE.


Personally, I miss iGoogle, Google Reader, and the Google Talk that combined SMS and chat in one app on Android.

I wish things like Project Ara and Glass had worked out.

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For all the crap Zune got, it was really an excellent audio player. It had an innovative UI, an excellent DAC - far better than what the iPod had, and some really neat features like Wi-Fi connectivity and the ability to share tracks with neighboring devices. The Zune music store was really good with interesting social networking features, DRM-free high-bitrate purchases, shared playlists, cloud music storage, and an unlimited streaming service (which included a monthly allotment of 10 free DRM-free downloads to keep forever). All these things predated Spotify and Apple Music by many years. Of course Microsoft being Microsoft couldn’t make all these things work to its advantage.

Despite Spotify and eventually Apple Music offering competitive streaming plans for cheaper and even providing family sharing options, Zune’s own Music Pass actually increased prices while removing features - gone was the 10 free tracks, gone was the playlist sharing and other social features. Zune’s music player stubbornly had no SDK which meant any external integrations were near impossible. Eventually the streaming service was discontinued. And then the kiss of death was when the whole thing underwent several branding changes to Xbox Music then Groove.

It’s a real shame.


Another much missed product for me is Windows Home Server. It was an amazingly good product offering for centralized backup and management of home networks. It’s the only backup solution for Windows that I ever used that even came close to Time Machine for MacOS. It’s the only Windows-based backup solution that never let me down and didn’t shit the bed if I looked at it sideways. I could do a bare metal install over the network and have a machine come back exactly as it was when the last backup snapshot was taken (which was typically no more than an hour old). This was groundbreaking stuff in the consumer space. Windows’ own built in File History is garbage, and commercial offerings are no better. Those things always failed me when I needed them the most.


Likewise the later devices. The Zune HD had all that media player non-sense, but also HD video out over HDMI. A Web browser, and OS that could run apps. As figured it was basically a pocket sized media player combined with a set top box.

Thing is it launched around the same time as Hulu and Netflix were kicking off their streaming services. So that whole portable video unit in your pocket was starting to make a lot less sense. And they weren’t aware enough to jump on the steaming device thing that early.

Had it been a little better thought out. Or existed earlier it could have been a thing. As is it’s sort of an interesting tangent from the last few years where MP3 players mattered.

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Not listed: Microsoft Multiplan. (And probably a bunch of other ancient stuff, but I remember Multiplan from when my family inherited a used first-gen Mac that came with a bunch of random software.)

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