I'm a little slow on this bit of news, but I just stumbled across the Goodbye from Seattle: Microsoft ending Zune device article from a month ago on GeekWire. This was really bad news for me - I own several Zune devices, so I would be extremely sad to see them go; personally I think that Zunes are great media devices that have a lot of potential. Given the existence of a large body of anti-Apple users, which has led to the creation of websites like anythingbutipod.com, there are a lot of people that don't want to settle for an iPod.
As I was lamenting the untimely demise of my favorite media player, I came across the Zune Is Not Dead article on anythingbutipod.com, which was published the day after the GeekWire article was published. The anythingbutipod.com article contained a statement from Dave McLauchlan, who is the Senior Business Development Manager for Zune, and he stated rather emphatically that the Zune is not dead.
So this leaves me a bit confused, at least for the moment; I'm not sure what to think about the future for Zune devices.
FWIW - I have two Zunes, a Zune 120 (black) and a Zune 30 (red), both of which have been great devices for me. I use my Zune 30 every day during my commute to listen to audiobooks, and I use my Zune 120 when I'm traveling in order to listen to music and watch movies.
In addition to my Zunes, my wife, my son, and my daughter all use a Zune. (I also own an HTC HD7 that is running Zune on Windows Phone 7, but that's another story.)
All that being said, the Zune never reached a critical mass, and I could easily make a wish list of features that I think would help the Zune in the long run. Here are just a couple:
- Transferring files to and from a Zune should not require using the Zune software.
This is an annoying limitation, and I realize that it's the same model that is used by the iPod with iTunes. But Microsoft already makes Windows Media Player, and you can use that to transfer files to/from third-party players, so I find it somewhat limiting that you have to use the Zune software.
- The Zune should show up as a removable device in Windows Explorer like most third-party media players.
This is somewhat related to the previous comment, but here's an example: my dad and my aunt both own media players from Creative, and it's great that their media players show up as removable devices in Windows Explorer when you plug them in. There's an old adage that says, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," and it's great when you don't need to try. My dad is in his early 70's and my aunt is in her early 80's, so it's great that they can stick with the simple drag & drop or copy & paste functionality in Windows when they want to update the media on their players. (For that matter, I wrote a batch file that my dad uses when he adds MP3 files to his media player that automatically updates the metadata; all he has to do is run the batch file when he adds new files to his media player and everything is up-to-date. You can't do that on an iPod or a Zune.)
Anyway, that's my $.02 on the subject. I love my Zunes, and I hope that Microsoft decides to keep them around.