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Microsoft Kills Zune Devices; Software Lives On in Windows Phone 7

Microsoft has confirmed that it has stopped production of its standalone Zune media players.

Rumors that Microsoft was planning to discontinue the Zune first surfaced in a March Bloomberg report citing an unnamed source. In response to that report, Microsoft program manager Dave McLauchlan -- who has since left the company -- said in a blog post that Microsoft had not revealed any such plans. McLauchlan claimed that Zune software running on Windows Phone 7 devices was the 2011 release of the Zune device.

Apparently, Microsoft's plans were in flux -- even as late as last week, when a product page disappeared from Microsoft's Web site. It was later described as a mistake. Now, it appears there is no doubt: Microsoft has ceased Zune hardware production.

"We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players," states Microsoft's Zune player support page. The page notes that Microsoft continues to observe Zune hardware warranties.

If that wasn't clear enough, Microsoft's press support service provided the following response when asked if Zune hardware production was discontinued:

"We are no longer producing Zune devices. Going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy. You can find more information at http://www.zune.net/en-us/support/zuneplayers/supportzuneplayers.htm."

Zune hardware apparently can still be purchased from some retail outlets. However, the form factor that once attempted to challenge Apple's iPod will eventually disappear.

It should be noted that Microsoft has not pulled the plug on the Zune software, which can still be installed on Windows Phone 7 devices and PCs, and used on Xbox consoles. Zune software is also a prerequisite installation to continue to get updates on Windows Phone 7 devices, such as the recently issued "Mango" Windows Phone 7.5 update.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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