I made an odd request this morning with my wife, though it was well received by this kids: Let’s go to McDonalds for breakfast. I had an ulterior motive here, of course, and it wasn’t just the thought of having chicken for breakfast: McDonalds offers free wi-fi through Wayport and they’ve worked with Microsoft to provide Zune users with trouble-free connections. (Frankly, it’s unclear what the big deal is here, but I can’t get the Zune to connect to my two wireless networks at home, so what the heck.)

I’ve been working on a lengthy Zune 3 review since last week but there are a few pieces I hadn’t been able to test yet, and wireless access to Zune Marketplace on the device is one of them. Predictably, it’s a great experience, but the real breakthrough is for those who have a Zune Pass monthly subscription: If you do have one, you can stream entire songs and albums over wi-fi to the device, which is pretty exceptional. I listened to bits of a new Lindsey Buckingham album over breakfast and then went retro with some older Adam & the Ants albums while the kids hit the play area in the restaurant.


(typical iPhone photo, sorry)

Increasingly, I feel like Microsoft is on to something here. Yeah, $15 a month is a bit steep (I think $9 is the sweet spot for this kind of thing) but the ability to grab so much music—and, via wi-fi, to stream it on demand—is incredibly compelling. What a great experience.

It’s hard not to think down the road and imagine what the video experience would be like if that were included as part of the Zune Pass. I could see people cancelling their cable subscriptions if they could get enough content via services like Zune Marketplace (or whatever).

Yeah, I still do believe that subscription services are the future of the music industry. And they’re clearly the future, in general, of these digital media platforms.

More in the review….

Oh, and I’ve decided to not wait on the coming switchover to a new content management system on the SuperSite to reorganize the site by content instead of vague sections like reviews, showcases, and so on. It will take a few weeks to get this done, but the first new content-based activity center, for the Zune, is up now at http://www.winsupersite.com/zune. Let me know what you think. I’ll be making something like that for all of the main content types covered on this site, but the real trick is figuring out how to expose that (via a toolbar or menu or whatever) in a way that makes sense. More to come….