End of the line for Microsoft Zune HD?

The Zune MP3 player may have run its course. After four generations of the digital music player failed to gain market share against Apple's iPod lineup, Microsoft is rumored to be focusing on Zune software and services for PCs, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7. The fourth-generation device, Zune HD, shipped in September 2009.

An article by Bloomberg published on Monday said that Microsoft would stop releasing new Zune hardware models, but it cited an unnamed source for that information.

Dave McLauchlan, senior business development manager for Zune HD, responded to the rumor via a forum on the anythingbutipod blog. Microsoft has not issued any information on the purported demise of the hardware version of the Zune music player, according to a blog post attributed to McLauchlan, who said that he manages Zune hardware business development at Microsoft, and that he still has that job. McLauchlan implied that the Bloomberg story should be viewed with skepticism, without debunking the story's claims.

"To be 100 percent clear -- NO information about our future plans, no matter what the incarnation, has been shared," McLauchlan said.

The Bloomberg article claims that Microsoft has its Zune teams split into hardware and software groups, with the split occurring sometime in 2009.

McLauchlan implied that Microsoft considers Windows phones to be a hardware release of the Zune.

"We were completely frank about this year's Zune hardware being the WP7 phones, and we continue to both sell and fully support the Zune HD line of products," the blog states. "And as I've promised -- we continue to bring new apps and games to the platform. More of those are in the works, I promise you."

Microsoft did not respond to an inquiry sent on Tuesday about Zune hardware plans. However, it did release a statement to Bloomberg stating that it had nothing to announce about another Zune device and that "our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Mar 17, 2011

I don't know what people get all bent out shape about, the current Zune HD is fine and I see no reason NOT to buy it if your looking for such a device. Really, it's pretty cool. If MS as it seems, is going to continue to produce the existing version for the time being, then that's ok with me. Even if they stopped making it TODAY, does anyone think that their Zune will stop playing music? So what's all the fuss? Yes it'd be nice to have a new device that's a WP7 less the phone part, that way it'd also support XNA 4 and Silverlight. Also be nice if MS considered making their ZUNE hw device marketplace available to us developers and I'd bet lots of us would start deploying Zune apps there (though we'd have to dev for XNA3.1 but that's cool with me). Am I missing something?

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