I installed the Zune software, even though I don’t own a Zune player. No, seriously. Here’s the story: Shockingly, I spend a fair amount of time on my couch with my laptop. Being afflicted with a desire for multiple input streams at once, simply coding or browsing the web is not enough. My ears want something to do, too. But it is foolish to use the weak laptop speakers when I have better, albeit low-end Bose speakers sitting a few feet away. And below the speakers sits my Xbox 360 which can play shared music over the wifi network. [1]

After running Zune software installer it proceeds to check for updates for a long time. Good thing the installer has photos while you wait of cool kids, hanging out with their Zunes, “squirting” songs and enjoying being in a desirable demographic. It did quickly find my iTunes library and build its own library without copying anything. At first the Xbox couldn’t find my shared music, and it took a few minutes to find the problem was related to internet connection sharing. With that unchecked, the Xbox was wirelessly streaming most of my library. Slick.

Now, it can only stream most of my music because it cannot play the DRM’d music I’ve picked up from iTunes, of course. Everything I’ve bought on CD or from eMusic works flawlessly, but there is hole where all the music I’ve purchased from Apple should be. I felt dizzy with the realization that in this case Microsoft was the one providing a novel use for my music collection, and Apple was preventing it. This redoubled my commitment to buy only DRM-free music until the DRM scourge has passed.

[1] The Zune vs. Xbox marketing would make a great case study. The Zune has been met with disdain, with Microsoft coming off as tragically unhip. Yet the Xbox is very popular (in the U.S. anyway) and has avoided that imitator stigma.