Oh no… it’s a “Does Not SUX Much” edition of the Sarah on User eXperience (SUX) series.  What could this mean?

As many of you may have seen on Twitter, I’ve had a miserable month within these past 30 days, having to replace 2 dead laptops in a span of a week and dealing with one that just couldn’t stay stable.  While dealing with this, I apparently ended up in Zune Pass DRM hell – both laptops were part of my Zune Pass authorized computers list, and I was still cleaning up that list from formatting my laptop awhile back.  I’ll get to de-auth a machine later this week, but that still leaves one laptop dead to the Zune Pass in Zune software for at least another 30 days.  Not fun.  (Edited note: This was based on initial calculations, before looking into my support options.)

While looking at my options on taking advantage of my Zune Pass while the laptop itself can’t play Zune Pass content, I found the streaming capabilities of the Zune.net website.  Now I like the ability of streaming music, but I don’t want to be stuck on the current page while looking for more music to listen to.  But hey, there’s an app at the bottom that has this popout player to listen to music while navigating to other pages.  Let’s put it to the test.

The Zune.NET Popout Player 

First thing I noticed was that it’s a Silverlight app!  The Zune Pass content has its own DRM stuff going on behind the scenes, and apparently Silverlight can talk with it.  It’s impressive to see a Microsoft site using a Microsoft technology at this level.

I got a little too excited though – using Google Chrome, I got the notification that the popout player was active and could hear the music, but no idea where it was actually displaying.  When I navigated to another page, the player in Google Chrome stopped playing.  This is why there’s the “Does Not SUX Much” designation.  If I had this figured out and working in my browser of choice, I’d have stopped at “Does Not SUX”.

So I switched to Internet Explorer 8 to put it to the test.  Check this out:

I figured I’d queue up some songs that keep me in a fairly good mood – a little Owl City and some Glee Cast

 

So while streaming from Zune.net, you only have access to one playlist – Now Playing.  It would be great to have access to all of my playlists that contain Zune Pass content, but I’m happy to see that I have a playlist available.

Thankfully it’s fairly easy to add music to the playlist – simply click the + next to the song to add it to the Now Playing list.  Be it on the album listing, the artist’s page, from a friend’s list over in the social area… anywhere on the Zune.net site that has a + next to the song allows you to add this song to your Now Playing list. 

Yes, you can even go to your Zune profile and click on the + on a song in the most recently played list that appears as part of your badge and have it appear in the Now Playing list. That’s a great example of 2 Silverlight apps that can talk to each other!

Conclusion

While I’ll be only in Zune Pass DRM hell for a little more than a month, I have a feeling that this player will get used quite a bit.  Yes, I can use Pandora or some other streaming site, but I don’t have as much control over the songs I want to listen to as I do with this.  I look forward to returning to the Zune software and its playlists (which have a lot of Zune Pass content).  For now, the Zune.net popout player will work as my source of controlled streaming music.