Microsoft's Zune software is a fully featured, dedicated program that syncs files to the Zune, doubles as a music player, and allows users to buy and rent multimedia online. However, the program has some problems, including a memory intensive interface and questionable ID3 tagging support. Naturally, some Zune users might be interested in syncing their Zune with another piece of multimedia software. With no official alternatives to the Zune software yet available, a method exists to allow other software access to your Zune, as long as you are currently using Zune firmware 2.0-2.3.
zAlternator is a program that is designed to alter your Zune's dedication to its own software. There is no official or permanent download host for the software, but if you Google search "zAlternator download" you should be able to quickly find a host. During this search, be careful to avoid malicious web pages. The software needs to be downloaded and installed, but, before it can used, the Zune device must be "unlocked." Once it is, you can use the simple zAlternator software to choose how you would like your Zune to be recognized: as a "Generic WPD," an "iPod" or, the factory standard, a "Zune."
Unlocking the Zune
Because the Zune is intended for use only with the Zune software, the device is "locked" to all other programs. It only becomes "unlocked" when it is being synced with the software. As such, the only way to unlock the player is to manually end the snycing process using Windows Task Manager. During the syncing process, press Ctrl-Alt-Del, choose the processes tab and end the "Zune.exe" process. At this point, the Zune is unlocked, and zAlternator can be run.
WPD stands for Windows Portable Device. This option in zAlternator will allow your Zune to work with a multitude of Windows software that recognizes generic portable devices. MediaMonkey is a useful and free piece of software that will automatically recognize your player and sync with it. Winamp, which is similar to MediaMonkey, will react similarly. Windows Media Player 11 is a free piece of software that also comes bundled on Windows machines. This, too, will recognize your player and sync to it.
This option in zAlternator will cause iTunes to recognize your Zune player as an iPod. With this method, iTunes will falsely recognize your Zune as an iPod and sync to it.
Post 2.3 Firmware
If you have recently updated your Zune software and firmware, Microsoft unfortunately has eradicated the loophole that allowed zAlternator to change your Zune's settings. Downgrading your Zune is an elaborate process, and should only be done if absolutely necessary.
- Photo Credit "Syncing Music" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: jeremyfoo (Jeremy Foo) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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