Microsoft is shutting down most of the services associated with its Zune Music brand by the end of the month, the company announced today.
The Zune Music service was initially created as a digital media store for Microsoft’s Zune player device and as a direct competitor to Apple’s iTunes store for the iPod. The company has since scraped those plans in favor of a new digital media business strategy under the well-known Xbox brand.
In a letter to Zune Music service customers, Microsoft said users will no longer be able to communicate with friends, share playlists, or access their music play history after Aug. 31. The Mixview playback and channel playlist features are also disappearing.
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The company’s Zune Music Pass, which allows subscribers access to stream an unlimited number of songs via the Zune platform for a monthly fee, is also losing support for the Zune desktop app. Users will no longer be able to make purchases (music, videos, or Zune HD apps) through the service or redownload/authenticate old purchases when transferring to a new Windows PC. (So basically, if you want to rip your music off your current desktop, Microsoft isn’t going to help.)
The company did, however, stress in the letter that these changes wouldn’t impact your ability to stream media purchases via Zune Music Pass on the Xbox 360. (I’m assuming that Microsoft will simply swap out the Zune branding for the Xbox brand, while leaving the music service’s functionally unchanged.)
The death of Zune services shouldn’t ruin too many personal music libraries, as Microsoft has been clear about its fate for the last several months. Meanwhile, the company has also focused its efforts on the new Xbox Music service.
Unlike the Zune-branded service, rumors indicate that Xbox Music will be similar to streaming music services like Pandora, Rdio, and Spotify. And while we don’t have many official details about what form Xbox Music will take, the company did promise to reveal more information soon.