See You, Zune: An Obit for Microsoft's Media Player

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Thanks for the Flash memories. A little more than five years, Microsoft has pulled the plug on both the Zune Original and one of my favorite pieces of tech Zune HD. Yes, I am the proud owner of what was yesterday the gadget of a conscientious Apple objector and today a piece of obscure and obsolete tech. In a short paragraph on Zune.net, Microsoft announced that going forward their mobile music and video strategy will be focused on Windows Phone.

They went on to reassure me and other  Zune HD holdouts in glib fashion that the change means "[a]bsolutely nothing" since our devices will still work and they'll still honor our warranties. In the meantime, they're going to highjack our beloved Zune Pass subscription service and make it more Windows Phone-friendly. As I listen to Jay-Z's "Lost Ones" on my Zune HD, I can't help but look back on all the good times.

When I received my first Zune HD at a Microsoft Open House event, I was immediately taken in by its slim form factor, The black metallic device had a scant three physical buttons and a large (for the time) 3.3-inch touchscreen display. When I arrived home, I immediately downloaded the Zune software, signed up for an account and purchased a $45.00 3-month Zune Pass. For that small amount, I could download all the music I wanted with the added bonus of permanently keeping 10 tracks every month. Around that time Apple had just begun introducing tiered pricing for music to the tune of $.69, $.99, and $1.29. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the end of me and any Apple music affiliation. 

It only took me a year to fill my 16GB black beauty to the brim with Queen, George Michael, Kanye West, and India.Arie. It was my constant travel companion. But it wasn't just the music that had me hooked. Similiar to iTunes and the Apple App store, I could download apps and videos and I could also surf the net. Granted web surfing on the Zune wasn't the most user-friendly experience, but I remember a few times when it pulled me through in a pinch.

And when my Zune tumbled out of my pocket only for the screen to shatter against a wrought iron fence, I mourned my damaged tech and quickly upgraded to a 32GB model. I'm fully aware that I can load music onto my phone, or just let Pandora, Spotify, or Slacker Radio do the heavy lifting for me, but I prefer my Zune so I can reserve my phone's battery for more pressing things like playing a Super Mario RPG emulation, updating my Facebook and Twitter statuses, or gasp!, actually making calls.

I'm sad that Zune HD, a solid piece of tech has fallen victim to the iDevice onslaught and the rise of the all-in-one smartphone. I can only treasure my obsolete tech bauble and keep a look out for a reasonably-priced replacement, in case my Zune meets with another untimely accident.

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13 comments
  • Burn it, Brent! Says:

    I love me some bobble.

  • KJMClark Says:

    OMG. Earlier today I wrote, "Apple is now the evil empire – including a brilliant wraith as emperor?" I can't decide if that's the most prescient thing I've ever written, or the most despicable. Goodbye Steve Jobs. You were a brilliant human being, and I thoroughly regret my words from this morning.

  • Alfetta159 Says:

    Breaking news: they don't make 8-track tapes or players any more either.

  • That's the way baseball go! Says:

    I was following the article perfectly until I came across the phrase "obsolete tech bobble..", at which point I was thrown across the room and through a plate glass window. What is "obsolete tech bobble" (or bauble)?

  • John Durant Says:

    We have three Zunes in the family and were considering getting a fourth. Absolutely the best deal around for family music, all three for just $15 a month! I received the notice that MSFT was trying to change the deal for users like us but a family discussion resulted in a strong status quo vote. I love it!

  • Mark Says:

    tech "bobble"? Do you mean bauble?

  • KJMClark Says:

    Isn't it funny how Microsoft has turned into the Rodney Dangerfield of computing and Apple is now the evil empire - including a brilliant wraith as emperor? So what's Google? To hopelessly mix the metaphor, maybe Google is the Borg. They chose the name "Android", after all...

  • Barry Says:

    I had a Zune HD for a couple of months till I sold it at a loss for and mp3 only device.
    For the the Zune was a horrible music player and the remaining feature were junk. It just wasn't good at doing any one thing well and it deserves to die. Sent from my iPhone.

  • Lauren Glenn Says:

    Sorry to hear that, but I almost just wish that it could do H264 High profile so that I can play all of the HD videos I want on it. High profile makes it take up less room, but they at least allow for B-frames in the Main profile though.

    Regardless, despite the software issues that I used to have with this device (how many remember getting a "Device Is Not Responding" error when using this with a netbook?), it sounded excellent.

    Still, at least the Windows Phone will keep it alive for a while. Now if the Windows Phone allowed for video output or airplay, I'd jump back in the bandwagon. Still..... RIP Zune..... :(

  • Jason Hanford-Smith Says:

    Still have my trusty 80GB Zune. Sure it doesn't have a fancy touchscreen like the HD, but it syncs great with the Zune software which is FAR better than iTunes. I'll keep using it until it breaks. Hopefully by then, some other generic music player will be out cheap enough with that amount of storage.

  • Ron Says:

    That just pisses me off. I've had several Zune products. Culminating in a Zune HD 32GB. I absolutely love my Zune HD. I also have a Windows Phone 7 phone. But I still use my Zune for the gym and biking. I've also used it to store a couple of movies, take them to a friends and play them on their HDTV. Works great.
    This is a stupid move for MS. If consolidation of music players and phones was the best way to go, then Apple wouldn't have 4 iPods and an iPhone.
    Dumb***ses!

  • Randy Friis Says:

    This is saddening I also have a 16 GB zune Jd and I love the little guy.... and I agree not enough people loved it like it should have been loved... I toast for thode zunes that do have homes right now... With owners that care for them..

  • The Angry Black Woman Says:

    Now that is just depressing. The Zune HD was such a good product and not loved enough by Microsoft. *raises a sad glass*

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