Microsoft reconfirms Zune hardware demise

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Oct 092011
 

Microsoft ZuneIt was dead but then came back to life. And now it’s dead again. Microsoft has now confirmed that it will no longer make Zune players.

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.

With Microsoft’s new focus on Windows Phone, it is likely that the entire Zune branding will disappear. For example, the Zune software could be rebranded and rolled up into a larger Microsoft entertainment brand under the umbrella of Windows Phone and Windows.

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Microsoft Zune not dead after all?

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Oct 052011
 

Microsoft ZuneThe Microsoft Zune appears to have made a miraculous recovery. Microsoft announced earlier this week that it would stop producing Zunes but has now reversed its position. According to a tweet by ZuneSupport, Microsoft is still “supporting the Zune HD hardware. No official info has been released stating hardware is being discontinued.”

The support page that indicated that Microsoft would no longer produce Zunes has also been taken down. A second tweet indicates that “That site was not supposed to be added to the Zune website.”

Microsoft has not released a Zune player since 2009. It’s not clear why suddenly there are conflicting messages as to the future of Zune hardware.

Microsoft halts production of Zune players

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Oct 032011
 

Microsoft ZuneMicrosoft has quietly confirmed that it will no longer make Zune players. The last one, the Zune HD, was released back in September 2009. The Zune players support page now reads:

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.

As the post indicates, the Zune hardware may be dead but the software and lessons learned live on (and in fact today arrived in Canada).

Hang on to those Zunes, they are now collectors’ items…

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Zune Music Marketplace comes to Canada on October 3rd

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Sep 292011
 

Microsoft ZuneMicrosoft today announced that the Zune Music Marketplace and Zune Music Pass will launch in Canada on October 3rd with some 14 million songs to choose from.

The Zune Music Pass will cost CA$9.99 per month or CA$99.90 annually and will work with the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows PC, Zune devices and Zune.net. It will also include the ability to stream thousands of music videos through the Zune PC software (Xbox 360 support coming later in the fall).

Microsoft will also offer the new Zune Pass in the US (same cost). Unlike the current Zune Music Pass offering, it will not include 10 MP3s to keep each month. But subscribers will be able to download songs and synchronize them on up to a total of four devices (1 PC + any combination of PC, Zune device and Windows Phone). The older US$14.99 Zune Pass will be retired (existing subscribers will be able to keep it active).

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Microsoft launches Zune HD and Zune PC software update

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Sep 152009
 

Microsoft Zune HD

Today is the day that the Zune HD hits stores. With it, Microsoft is launching an updated version of the Zune software PC and plans to release a new Zune video offering on Xbox LIVE later this fall.

“With today’s announcement, the Zune business is growing into a comprehensive entertainment service that’s no longer tied to any one screen or device,” said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the TV, Video and Music Business at Microsoft. “Zune lets consumers connect to their music, TV shows and movie content and enjoy it on the three screens they use every day.”

The Zune HD is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra HD processor. It comes with a built-in HD Radio receiver, high-definition video output capabilities (supporting 720p), a 3.3-inch OLED touchscreen display (with a 16:9 widescreen format and 480 by 272 resolution), built-in accelerometer, and Wi-Fi. On the software side, it features an Internet browser (with tap to zoom technology) and a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard. Games and free applications such as Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune will also be available from the Zune Marketplace.

The Zune PC software has been updated and comes with new discovery and recommendation features, such as Quickplay and Smart DJ, that help users find and play digital content. Movies will also be available for rental and purchase later this fall. Zune Pass subscribers will also be able to now stream music through their browser by logging into Zune.net.

The Zune HD will only be available in the United States. The 16GB version will sell for US$219.99 and the 32GB version for US$289.99. Retailers will carry the former in black and the latter in platinum but red, green and blue devices are available in both capacities from Zune Originals.

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Microsoft Zune headed to Europe in 2009?

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Mar 132008
 

Microsoft Zune

French newspaper Les Echos (subscription required) is reporting that Microsoft is bringing the Zune to Europe in 2009. The interview with French Microsoft executive François Ruault, also reveals a number of other details about the upcoming launch.

On the hardware side, Microsoft will launch a newer third generation models in time for the European debut. Unfortunately, there are no details on these upcoming devices. This makes sense as the current models will be quite dated in a year.

Microsoft is also planning to launch a Zune Marketplace to go along with the players. Offering both music and mobile games, it will be accessible not only to Zune players but also to Windows Mobile devices. It’s not clear though how the new functionality will be offered to PDAs and smartphones. Could it be an OS upgrade, a software download or something that only newer devices will support? Microsoft will use its recent purchase of Musiwave, a French provider of mobile music services, as the basis for its European offering.

As to why it will take so long to launch in Europe, Microsoft attributed the delays to careful planning to ensure that its launch will be successful.

Note: The ‘More information’ link will take you to an article in French. [Google translation]

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Zune: Welcome to the Social

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Nov 142006
 

Microsoft Zune

Today is the day that the Microsoft Zune hits store shelves (if you live in the United States). The 20th century bore witness to a music revolution – from jazz to punk rock to hip hop. In a similar period of time, strides were made in the way that music was produced and shared, beginning in 1877 with Thomas Edison’s invention of the "word phonograph." The ability to record sound made it possible for people to create and share music in rich new ways, certainly, but it also enabled them to communicate as never before. From it, a world of possibilities was born.

Microsoft focuses on the Zune’s wireless capabilities as well as its commitments that the Zune is the entry point of a multi-year experience, and that Microsoft is investing heavily in innovation.

So, fasten your seat belts and let’s see where the Zune ride takes us!

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The Microsoft Zune is officially launched

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Sep 142006
 

Microsoft Zune

Microsoft formally announced its Zune brand and its products today. Focused on principles of sharing, discovery and community, Zune devices will let you connect to your library, friends, to larger communities and to other devices. Zune will consist a DAP, the Zune Marketplace music service (supporting individual track or album downloads as well as a Zune Pass subscription to download as many songs as you want for a flat fee) and an online community (thnk of something similar to Xbox Live for music lovers).

The first Zune device is a 30GB DAP (enough for up to 7,500 songs, 25,000 pictures or 100 hours of video) with a 3-inch screen, wireless technology and a built-in FM tuner with RDS. It will be available in 3 colours: black, brown and white. It will come preloaded with music and videos from Virgin Records, Ninja Tune, Quango Music Group and other labels.

Three accessory packs were also announced. The Zune Car Pack includes a built-in FM tuner with AutoSeek and the Zune Car Charger. The Zune Home A/V Pack is five products to hook up your Zune to yoru TV and music speakers. The Travel Pack is another five products to deliver entertainment on the road.

It will be interesting (and good for us consumers) to watch Apple and Microsoft try to out-do each other in the next few months.

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