It’s been a busy week at WPDownUnder over the Zune Hardware’s future. As previously blogged, Microsoft erred recently, uploading a webpage confirming the discontinuation of their manufacture and supply of dedicated Zune Hardware devices before they were actually ready to officially confirm this. Whilst the page was quickly removed, and Twitter denials advising of errors were made, Microsoft must have felt the horse had already bolted, With no news release or even a blog post, it was left to Matt Akers (@Skipdeez) formerly Zune Program Manager and Zune Insider Podcast host to confirm that the pin had indeed been pulled…
The webpage confirmation is back up again – showing:
This time for good,.,,,
It’s a shame that a great product like the ZuneHD should go out this way (with a whimper not a bang). Suffering from lack of exposure, limited North American release and a distinct lack of street cred vs. the household iFruit range of PMP’s – it was nevertheless a pioneering device, and a great product, the spiritual “father” of the Windows Phone UI. Interestingly, it would seem that even Microsoft employees were as confused about the actual future of the ZuneHD prior to the final nail in the coffin this week. On her MS Technet page; The Sharper Blog, Sjonia Harper this week posted:
“…After all that effort I wanted some answers. I started an e-mail chain at work but no one was really sure about what was going on with Zune players. Finally someone sent a message containing the link above and that was that.. I was optimistic that now that Windows Phone 7.5 seems poised to really begin to take off that there would be a renewed interest by both Microsoft and consumers in the Zune player. I’m one of those people who prefers keeping my MP3 player and phone separate. I don’t want to carry my phone in the gym. I just want to strap my Zune to my arm and work out. When I’m in my car or on a plane I want to listen to my Zune, not my phone.” LINK
Obviously for MS it came down to a business decision. Whether, as some are speculating, the name change for the Zune Pass to the Zune Music Pass is preparing us for a gradual phase-out and brand substitution to XBOX or new brand – time will tell.
For now – I am a little bit sad over it’sdemise. However I would like to leave Microsoft with a question on the ZuneHD. Now that it’s a dead platform and no more ZuneHD’s will be manufactured, are MS prepared to open up access to the Free Apps and games to non-US Windows Live ID owners? Only using my Aussie Windows Live ID means that the Zune Client software does not present me with the option of visiting the ZuneHD App marketplace.
Pretty please? It would be a nice way to raise a glass at the device’s wake