In a blog post, Microsoft’s Cesar Menendez provides an update based on the wide range of questions he’s gotten about the new 10 free song per month perk that’s part of the Zune Pass subscription. One bit really caught my eye:

1. What’s the catch here?
No catch. You get everything you always got with your Zune Pass (i.e. unlimited access to Marketplace subscription tracks, for as long as you maintain your subscription), plus your choice of 10 tracks to keep every month.

This isn’t true. In fact, there are quite a number of gotchas attached to this service. And Cesar even hits on a few of them in later parts of this same post. That is …

No rollover

There is no rollover of the ten downloads from one month to the next. Download your selected ten tracks each month; next month you’ll be able to download ten more.

How do you know you have credit?

You don’t. You do this…

Right-click on the track you want, and select ‘buy’ or ‘add to cart’. If you have a Zune Pass, each month you will have a ten-item credit in your account to use for this.

Are the free tracks in WMA or in MP3 format?

That depends on the song. About 90% of Marketplace tracks are available in DRM-free MP3 format. So chances are you’ll be getting a drm-free mp3.

This isn’t true. Right now, only two-thirds of the songs on Zune Marketplace are MP3 instead of WMA. The press release reads: “With the addition of tracks from UMG and Sony BMG, Zune will soon offer over 90 percent of its music in the MP3 format.” Soon isn’t the same as now. And in my real-world experience on the store, there are still plenty of WMA tracks. Which, by the way, are not called out in any way. For example, the songs I’m trying to buy here are all WMA, not MP3. See how it tells you that? Oh, wait. It doesn’t.

The biggest problem

The biggest problem, of course, is that the Zune software doesn’t alert you to the fact that you have 10 free song credits in the default application window, as iTunes does, incidentally. You have to know that you do, and know when the credit appears. Is it every calendar month? Every 30 days from the date of your service starting? Who knows? Certainly, Microsoft’s not telling us.

Oh well. It’s still cool that we have 10 free songs per month now. And it certainly isn’t a big deal to fix the issues I raise here. Hopefully they will do soon.

Just don’t believe the “no catch” baloney. You have to do a lot of legwork to take advantage of this functionality.