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Microsoft winding down Zune hardware - report

Media player to become software-only product claims US source

Reports suggest that Microsoft has stopped introducing new versions of the Zune media player, although it will continue to use the software technology in its other hardware devices.

According to an unnamed sourced speaking to Bloomberg, Microsoft will now concentrate on using Zune software on its Windows Phone 7 line and on the Xbox 360, as the Zune hardware is gradually phased out.

Never released outside of North America, the Zune project was headed by former Xbox frontman J Allard. The first product was released to market in 2006, but never broke into the list of the top five-selling media players - where Apple then held a 77 per cent market dominance.

Responding to Bloomberg's article Microsoft refused to confirm or deny the story: "We have nothing to announce about another Zune device - but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America.

"We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms," added the company.

Bloomberg's source suggests that Zune hardware will continue to be sold in the short term, but that no new versions are expected following 2009's Zune HD.

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David Jenkins