MSFT to Kill Off Zune Hardware, Retain Software

Last month, there were some unpleasant rumors that Microsoft was about to kill off the Zune devices and retain the brand for media services on the company's Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. Microsoft attempted to dispel such talk with a statement via its Facebook page that said Zune services were safe. The company insisted it wasn't killing off "any Zune services or features" but that still left room for speculation about the devices themselves.

Fast forward a month and the rumors have come back for round two with Bloomberg citing a source that says Microsoft will stop introducing new versions of the Zune "because of tepid demand." Instead, this source says Microsoft is going to focus on putting the Zune software onto other devices, such as phones running Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft is staying quiet, telling Bloomberg it has nothing to announce about another Zune device but remains committed to supporting Zune devices in North America. The company did, however, hint that we could soon see Zune services on WP7 and Xbox 360.

"We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360," Microsoft said in the emailed statement to Bloomberg.

"Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms."

So, Zune services are going to hit WP7 and Xbox 360 eventually, but what of the Zune's fate as far as hardware is concerned? Well, it doesn't take a genius to piece it all together. Though Microsoft has not confirmed plans to ditch the Zune as a device, the company has confirmed it has nothing to announce about another iteration of the Zune. And, while it's pledged to continue support for Zune devices in North America, Redmond's statement about continuing North American support leads one to believe other markets can forget about ever seeing the Zune on shelves.

Do you think Microsoft will ditch the Zune hardware? Let us know in the comments below!

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.