Zune refocuses on software and services

Zune HD Hardware 560x243 Zune refocuses on software and services

Microsoft finally confirmed on Monday that it is no longer manufacturing Zune devices. But despite what some might say, Zune itself is not dead. The Redmond software giant has turned its focus to the Zune software and bringing its three screens and a cloud vision to fruition. Zune powers the Music + Video experience on Windows Phone and Xbox 360, and it provides a premiere media experience on Windows PCs with the Zune software client.

“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. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices. Customer service has been, and will remain a top priority for us.”

This, of course, has been Microsoft’s strategy for over a year now. Dave McLauchlan, the former Senior Business Development Manager for Zune, said as much back in March. Windows Phone provides an excellent media experience. It’s not perfect–better integration with the Zune Social would certainly be appreciated–but it’s nearly there.

The only real issue here is for those who can’t or won’t pay for a smartphone and the associated data plans. Smartphone adoption is rapidly rising, but it’s no replacement for a dedicated portable media player. Unfortunately, PMPs as a whole have been struggling as of late. The Zune HD is still available for purchase online, but we don’t know how long it will remain that way. Those interested in a Zune HD are encouraged to pick one up right away. The Zune players will continue to function as normal, and Microsoft’s collection of free high-quality apps will remain available for download. We’d like to see a phone-less Windows Phone, but it’s not going to come from Microsoft, as it is hesitant to compete with its partners.

One thing, however, is for sure: the Zune software and services will continue to live on. Microsoft re-awarded three Zune MVPs on October 1, including our very own Grahm Skee. The company wouldn’t do that if it planned to shut things down. Zune on Windows Phone will continue to improve with each update, and the next Xbox 360 dashboard will have a renewed focus on integrated media experiences through Zune. Microsoft introduced a more competitive Zune Music Pass on Monday, adding support for free streaming music videos and finally bringing the service to Canada. Zune even powers the music experience on Bing, letting searchers play entire songs for free.

We’ll miss the Zune players, but the future is bright for the Zune software and services. The Zune played a huge role in shaping the future of Microsoft, defining the Metro design language that can now be found in Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and Windows 8. The software and services will continue to live on in these products, powering a compelling Music + Video experience like no other. It’s looking good indeed.

[Zune Support]




14 Comments

Haze on October 4, 2011 10:43 PM

Big shocker…

Though im not going to like, even though technologically my HD is date, I still love it to death and I only wish Microsoft pushed the device more in other markets becasue it would have done we here in Canada

epithetless on October 5, 2011 1:01 AM

Blaaaaaaah…

Sheeds on October 5, 2011 1:07 PM

Actually – MS confirmed to me that this page was a mistake

http://www.wpdownunder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/ZuneHWareDeathError-300×107.png

So whether it’s true and the timing was a mistake – or not, the page in question now returns a “page not found” error.

Cheers,
SHeeds.

The Clintidote on October 5, 2011 9:26 PM

I think it took me all of 30 seconds to choose the Cowon J3 over the Zune HD. The physical control buttons alone sealed the deal, not to mention all the other, better, features.

riopato on October 9, 2011 12:56 PM

Similar to what Google did with the Nexus, I would think it’s time for Microsoft to begin a Windows Phone hardware series that is based on the Zune HD design. They could have Nokia design/manufacture it since they’re already partnered with them. I always felt that the HD would’ve made a fantastic phone design.

William Devereux on October 10, 2011 6:00 AM

@Sheeds I’ll admit: I love Microsoft, but this whole thing has been a PR disaster. First Microsoft says one thing, then it says something else. On the latest episode of Windows Phone Radio, Matt Akers, a former program manager on the Zune software client, confirmed that the Zune HDs are no longer being manufactured. So, while we keep hearing a back and forth about the fate of the Zune HD, I’m going to have to take Matt’s word on it. He was, after all, the host of the Zune Insider podcast.

@riopato Yeah, exactly. Or what about a Windows Phone without the phone? Microsoft’s hardware partners could sell the device to those that can’t or won’t pay for a cellular contract and data plan.

kasrhp on October 11, 2011 6:01 PM

Unfortunately, this was easy to see. Microsoft butchered the Zune from the start. I would have bought one a while ago, but Microsoft has it locked down to where I can’t use it in my car unless I use the auxiliary port, hence destroying the sound quality when compared to using an old iPod. These limitations on accessories and usability killed the Zune, which is a shame because I’d really like to use the ZunePass for my music.

DJMarshy on October 14, 2011 1:33 AM

Figures, my Zune 8GB just flippin’ died and Microsoft goes and kills the whole series. Now I can’t upgrade to a Zune HD :(

Any suggestions for a good quality MP3 player in the land of Canadia? Excluding the Sansa Clip which I just do not like.

William Devereux on October 14, 2011 4:14 PM

DJMarshy, Zune players are still available at some stores. If you need to find a device, @tromboneforhire on Twitter is your guy. Tell him I sent you.

pcgamer on October 17, 2011 7:47 AM

It’s still okay for MS to focus Zune services on Windows Phone devices, I just think that with 16GB space at best on some WP7 phones, it’s quite difficult for some music enthusiasts to put a lot of music on WP7 phones. I hope the internal space can be increase up to at least 32GB, and also improve the power consumption and battery capacity, I really don’t wish the battery’s drained because of listening to music, and there’s an incoming phone call………

CrashXVII on October 18, 2011 3:56 AM

My Zune HD just went through the washing machine. What good is continuing the Zune Pass if I can’t find a music player to use it with? How exactly is the service going to live on? Phones are horrible for music devices, seeing as I need the battery to do, you know, phone stuff. My Zune HD ran over 24 hours on a full charge, my iphone can stream for all of 3 hours. I drive for a living and need my phone to be at the ready, doesn’t work as a music player if I switch to windows.

William Devereux on October 18, 2011 4:49 PM

I still love my Zune HD, but I’ve been using my Samsung Focus Windows Phone full-time for the last year now. I listen to a lot of music and podcasts, and I use a good amount of apps and data too. Thankfully, the device can last almost the entire day on a full charge. Especially if I plug it in while in the car or at my desk. It’s not perfect, but I’ve been able to use my Windows Phone the same amount as I did my Zune HD. :)

blegs38552 on October 24, 2011 8:03 PM

Three things need to happen for the Windows Phone to replace the Zune HD (I have the 64 GB model):

1. More storage, more storage, more storage. Either by internal memory or by allowing an external store card (SDHC?).

2. Better battery life, at least when using Zune features.

3. FM-HD reception. This is a great feature and should be incorporated into the next release. If this requires a hardware upgrade, get going on it.

Pete on May 20, 2012 1:27 PM

I love my Zune HD. But now that it has been discontinued I am having a difficult time finding a speaker docking station for it. Any ideas?
Thanks Pete.

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