In a move that has been long overdue, Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on its struggling Zune music streaming and downloading service. Microsoft has confirmed that it will retire all Zune services on November 15, 2014. Although Zune devices themselves will still function as rudimentary MP3 players, users will no longer be able to stream or download music from the Zune Marketplace or the Zune Music Pass subscription service. For anyone still holding on to their Zune Music Pass subscriptions, these accounts will be automatically switched to Microsoft’s Groove Music Service.
Some may be surprised that Microsoft had yet to retire its Zune Services, as they had stopped releasing Zune branded hardware back in 2008. Despite ending hardware production nearly 5 years ago, the Zune brand lived on through the Microsoft music and video marketplace until just last July when the company rebranded the Zune services as Groove Music. Current Zune Service users may be able to receive a partial refund if they cancel their subscriptions before Microsoft officially switches over all accounts to Groove Music.
Also, Microsoft will be cancelling Zune Service’s “Free 10 Tracks per Month” deal in lieu of Groove Music’s streaming capabilities. The Zune never posed much of a threat to the music player juggernaut that is the Ipod, but it did instill a sense of innovation and progress at Microsoft. Along with the Xbox, the Zune represented Microsoft’s first attempt at differentiating its products from Apple rather than simply trying to make copies.
Although the Zune is largely seen as a poster-child for corporate failure, one cannot help but feel that the environment in which it was developed helped set the groundwork for future innovations at Microsoft. Today Microsoft approaches each project as an opportunity to deviate from its competitors, and without the Zune, this sentiment may have taken much longer to firmly establish throughout the company.
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