Microsoft Kills Zune Media Player

Dennis Faas's picture

The Microsoft Zune media player is officially dead. Amidst steadily declining sales, Microsoft has reportedly decided to stop producing the handheld MP3 player, once characterized as an 'iPod Killer' by the hopeful Redmond-based firm.

Released in 2006, the Zune initially had techies excited for several reasons. For one, the design and build quality was top-notch. Others liked the subdued colors, such as brown. But most interesting about the Zune was the ability to share music across different Zune players.

For instance, if one Zune owner downloaded a song, he or she could share that tune with a friend. The latter could listen to the song only a couple times, but in 2006 (when Digital Rights Management was still a heavy buzz term) it was something of a big deal.

Beating Apple Won't Be Easy

These kinds of features led Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to remark "We can beat [Apple], but it's not going to be easy," in a November 2006 interview. Microsoft's Robbie Bach, at the time president of the company's entertainment and devices division, promised his firm would invest "hundreds of millions" of dollars into Zune. (Source:

Unfortunately, things just didn't work out, as the omnipresence of iTunes was also hard to escape.

Zune Player Dead, but Zune 'Ecosystem' Very Much Alive

Microsoft won't kill the Zune name. The company has announced it will now focus on using Zune software for mobile devices in an attempt to gain ground on industry leaders Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). Zune software gives users of Windows Phone 7 devices the ability to download music, movies as well as access streaming media.

Microsoft is also using this software on its Xbox 360 console via the Xbox Live service.

In a statement, Microsoft tried to focus on the positives. "We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360," a company representative said. "Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms." (Source:

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