Microsoft has finally “retired” the Zune, its ill-fated attempt to beat Apple’s iPod.
As of November 15, the few existing Zune devices still in use won’t be able to download or stream any music from the Zune Music service, and existing copy-restricted downloads may not work if the licenses can’t be renewed, the company announced today.
Subscribers to the Zune Pass service will be transferred to the new Groove Music Pass, which also works on the Xbox and other devices.
Introduced in 2007, the first Zune had one interesting feature that was different from the other MP3 players on the market at the time — you could connect two Zunes over a Wi-Fi network to transfer songs between devices.
But unfortunately, the recording industry made Microsoft limit that feature so that songs could be played only three times, and expired after three days, making this feature essentially useless. It wasn’t helped by the fact that almost nobody bought a Zune, so nobody was around to transfer songs with.
Also, Microsoft called this feature “squirting,” which sounded kind of icky.
The company updated the Zune for several years, and the Zune HD which came out in 2009 was actually a pretty excellent competitor. But it was already too late — the iPhone had come out in 2008 and by then, the world was already moving on from standalone MP3 players to playing music on their phones.
Microsoft stopped making Zunes in 2011, but has continued to support them until now.