Microsoft has officially declared what many have known to be true for a long time now - the Zune brand of portable media players is dead.
The last time a new Zune product was released was more than two years ago. Instead of focusing on rekindling that brand, Microsoft ended up turning most of its handheld focus to Windows Phone, and in fact that is exactly what Microsoft said is the reason for putting out the light on the Zune.
The company's product support page now reads, "We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players."
The Windows Phone platform is a pretty solid replacement for the Zune and carries over some of the interface style and music sorting options the Zune had.
Of course, buying a Windows Phone device means you need to have the motivation to switch whatever other phone platform you're using right now. That makes it quite a different animal than the Zune.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft releases some sort of "Windows Phone Touch" device - a 'Windows Phone without the phone,' much in the same vein as the relationship between the iPhone and iPod Touch.
There has been no real Android device to compete with the iPod Touch, but Microsoft appears more focused on the multimedia aspect of its phone line. Nevertheless, with tablet-centric Windows 8 on the way, that may be where it directs consumers who want a cool device without a phone.