I actually kind of liked Microsoft's previous attempt, mostly because you got unlimited streaming and you got to keep a certain number of downloaded songs (I think 5 or 10 a month). They tried to combine iTunes and Rhapsody.
To be honest, I'd like to see more players in this market and to see those players offer better features to diversify one another so that each option is a compelling buy, rather than there being forced to choose a single device because it offers a better consumption library.
Like, if Google Play or Apple Store offered a similar service (pay $15/mo) and you'd get like a $5 app/movie/etc. credit a month. Or something....
Zune software is fine(in regards to syncing and playing music), sure the service sucks, but honestly who actually uses the artist suggestions? and who the hell would want to pay to store music in the cloud? just download it to your phone and quit wasting your data.
I have had zune pass since November. It works great. Try sharing 1 iTunes account across 3 HTPC's..... yeah good luck with that. I have about 400 albums downloaded so far with about 30 different playlists. The only thing that Microsoft lacks is the ability to market a product well. Zune pass is superior to iTunes in every way. You can purchase the music if you wish, for less money than iTunes. Media center is another one. Great software, but the idiots couldn't market winter boots in the artic. The surface will most likely be a great product but could fail due to less than stellar marketing. Windows 8 shows no improvements that interest me....... Having to pay extra for media center, without a strong marketing campaign, doesn't seem too smart. Instead of bleeding the few people that use it, why not try to entice more people to use it. Paying for something that used to be free is already a hard pill to swallow.
The Zune service was a great idea. I'm a huge fan of subscription music services that allow me to download the songs to a variety of devices so I don't need to be connected to listen to my music. I also loved the idea of getting 10 songs per month to keep (I won't buy compressed music otherwise, but with Zune it's essentially a freebie).
I'm sure the Zune player was fine, but I wanted something different. I think MS made a huge mistake by pinning all their hopes on one playback device. Even minimalist Apple markets three different players. I have no interest in video on a tiny device and don't want to pay for that capability. I'd rather have a lighter, simpler *music* player with longer battery life. Not as small as a Shuffle or even a Nano, but small.
The Zune player was also missing some of the most basic accessories. I could never find a simple car charger with line-out, for example. Ridiculous.