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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