Some Zune fans still holding on, 10 years after Microsoft’s failed music player was born

Laurent Giret

Microsoft Zune

In the last 16 years, Microsoft made some bold moves to enter new markets that met various degrees of success, to say the least. As a reminder, the company’s mobile efforts started in the early 2000’s with the Pocket PC 2000 OS, while the “Windows Mobile” brand only made its appearance in 2003. Then in 2001, Microsoft entered the gaming console market with the original Xbox, which will celebrate its 15 birthday tomorrow along with the Xbox exclusive Halo franchise.

Ten years ago, the company also entered the portable media player market with its Zune brand, which was discontinued in 2012 after the products were unable to compete with Apple’s iPods and iTunes ecosystem and the global rise of smartphones as digital hubs. However, while Microsoft released its last Zune hardware back in 2010 with the Zune HD 64, there is still a small passionate community of Zune fans who are still using the devices as of today, according to a new report from The Seattle Times.

The newspaper took an interesting look at the Zune subreddit, discovering “a small but enthusiastic crew of Zune aficionados” who collect, repair and share tips about how to troubleshoot technical issues with the now-unsupported devices. A lot of them still praise the music players, which were the first consumer devices from Microsoft to feature the “Metro” design language which went to become later one of Windows Phone’s key features.

While some consumers may still find some value in dedicated music players, this product category may well have become a niche market in 2016 as even Apple’s iPods no longer have a dedicated landing page on the company’s website.

As for the Zune brand, Microsoft replaced it with the Xbox Music brand back in 2012 before introducing the Groove Music service last year. But while Groove Music is a ubiquitous service and one of the best-designed apps on Windows 10 devices today, it’s not clear yet if the service and the brand will ever get as much devotion and loyalty from consumers compared to the Zune or Xbox brands.