Whilst the previous Zune software was something like a Windows Media Player experiment turned Frankenstein, the new Zune software is something worthy of exploring.
Whether or not you agree with Tim Gideon from PC Magazine, “Microsoft’s answer to iTunes….is quite attractive and makes iTunes seem like a big, boring spreadsheet”, you must admit it is probably the only worthy contender to-date.
Whilst there’s a lot to like beyond just the looks - although I still reckon there needs to be more borders/separators - there’s an interesting bit of magic behind how the Zune software is designed and displayed.
The whole application, top-to-bottom and inside-out, is powered by a Microsoft framework no one has ever heard of before. It has several names, simply “UIX” or the “Microsoft Iris UI Framework”.
How do I know this? The most obvious clues are the framework library files in your Zune directory. They are UIX.dll, UIXrender.dll and UIXsup.dll - Microsoft Iris UI Framework, Rendering engine and UIX Debugging Support respectively. On the same note, the product name of all of these files is “Microsoft Zune-MediaCenter Platform” which helps a little later.
Looking a little deeper, all of the presentation markup files are actually embedded in a resource file called ZuneShellResources.dll (also the same file the images are in). In here we find each component of the UI defined in a separate .UIX file. There are literally hundreds of these. For example there is a “AboutDialog.UIX”, “Button.UIX”, “GalleryView.UIX” and “Tooltip.UIX”.
The UIX markup language is distinctively XML-based. Here is a snippet from “AboutDialog.UIX”.