Microsoft manager: Zune isn't dead

Microsoft employees might be thinking of the infamous Mark Twain misquote - ''rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated'' - following media obituaries of the company's Zune hardware.

Yesterday Neowin, along with numerous other tech sites, picked up a Bloomberg report announcing the death of the Zune music and video player, with ''a person familiar with the decision'' citing ''tepid demand'' for the devices as a key factor. Instead, Bloomberg's source said, Microsoft would shift its focus to integrating the Zune software with the Windows Phone platform.

According to WPCentral, that news apparently came as a surprise to Zune's Senior Business Development Manager David McLauchlan, who today took to the anythingbutipod forums to offer a passionate - if vague - defense of the Zune hardware.

''I've had tweets, emails, PMs and phone calls. People offering condolences, checking in on me, etc... etc... Stop, stop, stop! The Bloomberg article is NOT an official statement from Microsoft (apart from the quote above). The headline is purportedly from a "person familiar with the matter" - which of course tells you nothing,'' he said. By ''the quote above'', Mr. McLauchlan is referring to a Microsoft statement added to the Bloomberg article after its initial posting (though the article itself does not indicate it had been updated yesterday).

''We have nothing to announce about another Zune device -- but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America. We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms,'' the statement said.

 McLauchlan's post then took a vague turn, with the Softie asserting that the Zune HD would continue to enjoy full support, but explaining that as an 18-month-old product, the current Zune hardware had a ''lifespan''.

''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. 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,'' he said.

''To be 100% clear - NO information about our future plans, no matter what the incarnation, has been shared. Until then treat with healthy skepticism anything you read...I'll be going to work tomorrow, working on Zune hardware bizdev. And when Microsoft announces news that is actually news, you'll hear it from us directly, and I'll be sure to pass it on immediately,'' he said.

As WPCentrals' Daniel Rubino pointed out, McLauchlan's post raises more questions than it gives answers, and doesn't seem to definitively state what will become of the Zune hardware. In fact, McLauchlan himself admitted in a later post that he was unable to ''say a whole lot'' to clear up the situation.

''We haven't said what comes next - or what doesn't. It's as simple as that,'' he said.

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Judging my the feedback I get of iPods being better than Zunes, if Microsoft had released Zunes worldwide, I would be able to get one for a cheap price of eBay. It's so unfair that I can't.

So the executive summary is:

The Zune brand is very much alive.
The Zune services continue to expand into International markets, albeit painfully slowly.
The Zune media player has taken a back seat since the focus this year is on WP7.
The Zune client software is roughly aligned with the development path of WP7.

I wish Microsoft would be much more open and frank about their plans, even if they are subject to change and events etc. I'd quite like to know what is going to happen to WMP, is it going to finally merge with the Zune client and be set apart, stripped out of Windows 8 core like what happened to Windows Live Mail? So many questions!

I wanna see the Zune HD2 Then!!!!! Give me the Zune HD2 running WP7 OS and I'll be happy. iPod touch needs some real competition and those crappy Samsung Android PMPs don't cut it.

The ZuneHD should have been marketed outside of the US. It is a great piece of hardware that just works. Battery life is amazing. I have used the others and prefer the ZuneHD. I hope they release another upgrade. Larger screen 3.5 or 4.0 would be ideal.

One reason I never bought a WP7 was because I wanted a Zune and they still haven't released one in Australia!

I wasn't jumping onboard a 2nd MS failed product

Baked said,
One reason I never bought a WP7 was because I wanted a Zune and they still haven't released one in Australia!

I wasn't jumping onboard a 2nd MS failed product

How has Windows Phone 7 "failed", it's not even been out 6 months yet?

neo158 said,

How has Windows Phone 7 "failed", it's not even been out 6 months yet?

Look at the UI lol Plus we're yet to see any massive market share grabs from it.

Baked said,
Look at the UI lol Plus we're yet to see any massive market share grabs from it.

What's wrong with the UI?

iOS has the most outdated idea of an interface, with little to no hardware acceleration. Android is just a mess, with fragmentation problems and an inconsistant UI accross handsets e.g. Sense UI and Motoblur and the Stock UI to name just a few.

Windows Phone 7 has a consistant UI across all devices and has hardware acceleration for the transitions. Windows Phone 7 also brings the information that is important to you to the front unlike iOS, Android, Symbian and WebOS.

WP7 might be simple to look at but appearances can be and are deceptive!!!!

Edited by neo158, Mar 17 2011, 1:25pm :

Microsoft hasn't said it's dead... but they haven't said it's alive either.

"Zune" is alive, Zune *hardware* is looking pretty grim.

It's funny how you can actually see two simultaneous news articles in Neowin's front page, one saying the Zune IS dead and the other one saying it ISN'T lol

As I've said a million times already on every "Zune is dead" post.... It's not goint anywhere... it's all stupid rumours, misleading titles, and minunderstandings, etc.

Zune is here to stay (as a service/software for now.... but doesn't mean there will never be a device again... it just means currently they have more important things - WP7 - to focus on)

Déjà vu?
I swear there was a topic in the forums about the Zune being dead then a front page story about it not being dead later on and then another topic in the forums again about the Zune being dead and now another front page story about it not being dead.

AnotherITguy said,
Can;t you see ZUNE is now inside every windows phone 7

goes very well with Schroedinger's cat above: No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time (Pauli exclusion principle).

DerAusgewanderte said,

LOL, love this!
By the very act figuring out whether it's dead or alive you actually kill it.....

or perhaps resurrect it! we'll never know!

Next Zune device needs to be based on Windows Phone 7. Requiring someone to buy a phone to get into their ecosystem isn't a smart decision in the long run, as a good portion of the population can't afford the monthly data fees.

Well while the discontinuing devices completely is not a surprise, they technically did release a new device(s) running Zune in 2010, Windows Phone 7, which falls during the same annual time frame of device releases since Zune's introduction in 2006. With the Zune team, probably, working so close with the Windows Phone team I can see how their resources could have been pretty tired up. Perhaps we will see a new standalone device this year or Microsoft licensing the service to manufacturers.

Andrew Lyle said,
I sure hope not. I want to see the Zune HD2.

me too ;_; Zune HD was (and still is) a wonderful piece of hardware. Still my number one choice for a music player now even when I own an iPhone..

kimatg said,

me too ;_; Zune HD was (and still is) a wonderful piece of hardware. Still my number one choice for a music player now even when I own an iPhone..

Hey me too! I hate using my iPhone cause of the battery life. My Zune HD just works, it's small, sleek, and is the perfect MP3 player. Browser sucks right enough, but hopefully the Zune HD 2 (if ever made) will still keep to the same UI as the Zune HD.

Andrew Lyle said,

Hey me too! I hate using my iPhone cause of the battery life. My Zune HD just works, it's small, sleek, and is the perfect MP3 player. Browser sucks right enough, but hopefully the Zune HD 2 (if ever made) will still keep to the same UI as the Zune HD.

Browser sucks right enough? really, i thought you were Pro Zune?

mjedi7 said,

Browser sucks right enough? really, i thought you were Pro Zune?
God forbid he should be honest about what he doesn't like about it.

mjedi7 said,

Browser sucks right enough? really, i thought you were Pro Zune?

I like windows 7, therefore I cannot point out any flaws in it. Astounding logic.

mjedi7 said,

Browser sucks right enough? really, i thought you were Pro Zune?

I might own a Zune HD and be "Pro Zune", but I can still point out a devices flaws.

Andrew Lyle said,

Hey me too! I hate using my iPhone cause of the battery life. My Zune HD just works, it's small, sleek, and is the perfect MP3 player. Browser sucks right enough, but hopefully the Zune HD 2 (if ever made) will still keep to the same UI as the Zune HD.

There will never be a Zune HD 2. It'll be a Windows-not-a-Phone7 or something equally catchy..

No see, it is dead. Microsoft hasn't updated the hardware in two years, there's no word whatsoever on a second generation Zune HD, they failed at launching the Zune internationally and iPod sales are still at an all-time high.

Claiming anything otherwise is what we call denial.

.Neo said,
No see, it is dead. Microsoft hasn't updated the hardware in two years, there's no word whatsoever on a second generation Zune HD, they failed at launching the Zune internationally and iPod sales are still at an all-time high.

Claiming anything otherwise is what we call denial.

well, he said the new zune hardware this year were the WP7 devices.

.Neo said,
No see, it is dead. Microsoft hasn't updated the hardware in two years, there's no word whatsoever on a second generation Zune HD, they failed at launching the Zune internationally and iPod sales are still at an all-time high.

Claiming anything otherwise is what we call denial.

I'd say not supporting the ZuneHD in XNA 4 was a killer, as well.

.Neo said,
No see, it is dead. Microsoft hasn't updated the hardware in two years, there's no word whatsoever on a second generation Zune HD, they failed at launching the Zune internationally and iPod sales are still at an all-time high.

Claiming anything otherwise is what we call denial.

Your wrong.. the zune has been updated on the xbox a few times in the last few years with the addition of the Kinect.. I dont understand just because a company says that they are not going to release a new hardware device then the whole project is dead?? That is like if Google decided not to make anymore Android phones, would you be calling out that Android is dead?! Hell no...

They are just trying to get a scheme where they just sell the zune software like the WP7 so that other companies take the hardware risk.. They will probably release a Zune OS that will be exactly like Windows Phone that people can release on their devices..

.Neo said,
So the Zune hardware (media player only device) itself is pretty much dead.

I think the problem here with saying "zune is dead" is that the Zune brand has been expanded to what includes the services on various devices rather than the Zune hardware itself produced directly by MS.. since the Zune brand itself just started to take its place, maybe MS wanted to prevent people from thinking the service is dead altogether.

Lachlan said,
Your wrong.. the zune has been updated on the xbox a few times in the last few years with the addition of the Kinect..

Let me clarify myself (already did that above): Zune hardware, as in the stand-alone media player, is pretty much dead.

.Neo said,

Let me clarify myself (already did that above): Zune hardware, as in the stand-alone media player, is pretty much dead.

Yes, Maybe...

Microsoft may decide to release a WP7 like media only device, but they are not saying.

If they did, it would be smarter for them to sell a non-phone version of the WP7 OS to hardware MFRs with hardware specifications, just as they are doing with the phone. As this is what Microsoft does, provide OS and software technology so that others can sell and use it, making hardware is usually them sparking a void in the market, and then pulling out of it once the competition fills the void. (Windows Sound System, MS Mouse Technologies, GPU technologies, etc.)

No, it's dead. They killed it when they continued to refuse to release it outside of North America, thereby removing about what... 5.5 billion potential customers from it's market?

Majesticmerc said,
No, it's dead. They killed it when they continued to refuse to release it outside of North America, thereby removing about what... 5.5 billion potential customers from it's market?

Add another Billion!

Zune: the antidote to slow news days.

Zune is dead!
Zune isn't dead!
Zune is dead!
Zune isn't dead!
Zune is dead!
Zune isn't dead!

The Zune is dead, long live the Zune!

Majesticmerc said,
No, it's dead. They killed it when they continued to refuse to release it outside of North America, thereby removing about what... 5.5 billion potential customers from it's market?

When the main feature of the ZuneHD is the Zune Pass, that requires separate music licensing contracts for each content provider in each country, it has taken Microsoft for freaking ever to just get the licensing done.

Outside the US, Microsoft had to shove hard to just get parts of Europe, Australia/NZ, and Canada so that it would be available for the WP7.

Now that these areas are available for the main feature of the device, it is possible they would release it there, but considering they would rather sell a WP7 that does the same thing, I don't see this happening on a large scale.

They would be better off to have people buy non-carrier WP7 devices, and use them like a ZuneHD, as they are faster and full featured for the Apps and Games.

thenetavenger said,
<Snipped for brevity>

I wanted one, and I know at least two other people in the UK that wanted one, and we didn't much care about Zune Pass. As long as we could upload music or movies onto it ourselves, we'd have been happy. Alas this was not the case, so we got Android phones instead and haven't been happier.

thenetavenger said,

When the main feature of the ZuneHD is the Zune Pass, that requires separate music licensing contracts for each content provider in each country, it has taken Microsoft for freaking ever to just get the licensing done.

Outside the US, Microsoft had to shove hard to just get parts of Europe, Australia/NZ, and Canada so that it would be available for the WP7.

Now that these areas are available for the main feature of the device, it is possible they would release it there, but considering they would rather sell a WP7 that does the same thing, I don't see this happening on a large scale.

They would be better off to have people buy non-carrier WP7 devices, and use them like a ZuneHD, as they are faster and full featured for the Apps and Games.

Microsoft would be bettr off offering each Zune/HD owner $70 to replace the device with a WP7.

If Apple can open iTunes stores around the world, why Microsoft can't open ZunePass ?

alexalex said,

Microsoft would be bettr off offering each Zune/HD owner $70 to replace the device with a WP7.

If Apple can open iTunes stores around the world, why Microsoft can't open ZunePass ?

I didn't think Apple had released a music subscription service anywhere in the world

Majesticmerc said,
No, it's dead.

Noooo... it is resting. Like the Norwegian Blue, it's... resting. Beautiful plumage.