I think that some people may have trouble getting used to the “text-type” interface as opposed to the “button-type” which is the most common UI for clickable items. The Zune UI is known for its sleek looking all-caps texts and thin fonts, but it may require a learning curve for those people who can’t decipher between a button and just a simple text. (same with designing web elements)
One example, instead of using the more conventional volume sliders for adjusting on-screen volume controls the UI only provides a numerical view of the increments, unlike the iPod Touch or just any other mobile phone UI which clearly displays buttons as clickable, either with the use of icons or embossed beveled shapes. For me, a slider would’ve been more easier to look at and use (albeit very boring) as it’s the typical look of standard volume controls everywhere.
The Android GUI looks more Microsoft-ish than the Zune is. But not looking like XP is a good thing for Zune right? Well for a portable media player it is, which the Zune HD clearly is. But if it evolves more than that, like a gaming device or a small pocket computer, it has to let go of it’s text interface and move to the more usable and visually efficient UI for the masses.
The Zune interface is perfect for what it is and purpose right now. Providing eye candy as you browse through your multimedia content. But is it usable as, let’s say, a portable computer? I don’t think so. Just imagine Windows 7 having no icons at all, and just pure images and text. No buttons, no user forms like dropdown menus, radio buttons etc… that’s what Zune OS will look like if it’s UI would be ported to Windows Mobile.
Having said these, I like the design direction Microsoft is taking with the Zune with it’s out-of the box design. It has established a look of it’s own that is consistent with the past Zune interfaces that we all liked. I’d also like to note that I have only looked at the UI on images and videos available on the net but haven’t actually used a Zune HD and using the actual device is a different thing altogether. Hopefully I'll get my hands on these soon and write a proper review :)
Making the user interface look cool in a more complex way. That’s the Zune style there. Love it or hate it.
Watch Crunch Gear’s Zune UI demo below: