Microsoft focuses Zune efforts on software

Microsoft recently told news agencies it has "nothing to announce about another Zune device," giving rise to the belief it won't produce another handheld media player. Instead, Microsoft will focus on developing the Zune software ecosystem across its other platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and the Xbox 360. Existing Zune owners can also look forward to continued support for their devices.

From the release of the first Zune media player in 2006, the line has been stuck in the shadow of Apple's iconic iPod. The original Zune was widely panned, and subsequent models like the flash-based Nano rival received little attention. Even a Tegra-laced update in 2009, dubbed the Zune HD, failed to improve sales. Microsoft has since renewed its interest in smartphones, and it looks like Zune media player will be left behind.

No clues have been given about how long Microsoft will continue selling the current Zune hardware. The Zune HD is currently available in 16, 32, and 64GB flavors at $166, $183, and $290, respectively. Apple's iPod touch is more expensive at $205, $275, and $365 for 8, 32, and 64GB versions. Of course, the iPods have Retina displays and a massive collection of games and applications to keep you occupied.

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