Zune Software + Audiobooks = SUX

It isn’t a good sign when I revive the Sarah on User eXperience acronym – but sometimes there are bad user experiences that really deserve the SUX label.

Disclaimer: I hate writing disclaimers, but I need to make sure that you understand that these are my personal experiences and my personal thoughts. My employer is not responsible for my posts. Also for the record, I am active in the Microsoft community, and this isn’t meant to be an anti-Microsoft post. This is a call to action for them.

I love listening to audiobooks on my Zune. My recent experience though has me a bit dismayed about the whole process, and I hope Microsoft can get this straightened out.

When I download audiobooks from my local library, I can transfer the audiobooks to my Zune thanks to Zune firmware 3.0, which supports OverDrive audiobooks. But what the firmware seems to support is the transfer to the Zune. Deleting expired audiobooks from the Zune is a different story, and hence the reason for my dismay.

With my Zune, there seems to be a step missing. I use the OverDrive software to transfer to my Zune, but the delete process isn’t obvious. The audiobook experience with the Zune is like Hotel California – you can check out but you can never leave. You can expire, but you can never delete – at least at a first glance.

After a long time poking around on Live Search, I came across this process on how to delete the expired audiobooks. I apparently must get the OverDrive transfer wizard to a point where I can Browse the device and then delete each file individually. So I need to initiate a transfer in order to delete something – this alone is counterintuitive. But at the same time, the OverDrive software is just to transfer to the device – why doesn’t the Zune software have the ability to remove the audiobooks from the audiobooks section of the device?

When you have a lot of audiobook files – like the numerous files behind Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, in addition to some L.A. Theatre Works productions – this process is tedious and drawn out. If I have gripes about this user experience, I can only imagine the headaches of the non-technical user.

Microsoft dropped the ball in this case. The other devices out there provide ways for deleting audiobooks – be it through their own software or through Windows Explorer. With the Zune, neither path is available.

So Zune software devs, I have a suggestion for you. You know that section of the Zune software where you can see music, videos, pictures, podcasts, friends, and channels – how about adding a section there called “audiobooks” with the delete functionality so that Zune users can easily delete expired audiobooks from their Zunes?

Until this counterintuitive and frustrating process is addressed, I will stick to audiobooks on my non-Zune devices (laptops, desktops, netbooks, and other media players). I look forward to Microsoft adding the functionality to their Zune software to delete audiobooks so that I can eventually go back to listening to audiobooks on my Zune.


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