My favorite announcement at Microsoft’s E3 press conference wasn’t even a game. Sure, there are legions ready to tear Microsoft asunder for announcing as many services like ESPN and Univision as they were games like Halo 4 or South Park, but that’s really just part of the equation at this point. You simply can’t have a powerful, internet-enabled piece of silicon without some extra responsibilities these days. Before E3, I’d started writing a piece on the life and death of Zune and with today’s announcement, Zune is now officially dead.
But let’s not despair! The Zune name is going away, but the service is staying very much alive. Now with 30 million tracks and one of the best subscription plans out there for offline music use (y’know, when you don’t have regular internet access), the new Xbox Music service may finally gain ground against Apple’s stranglehold on the market. No, we’re not going to see any more players, we’re just going to see better and better Windows Phone apps with baked-in social sharing features, something that made me drop the service last year. The service was shown running on Xbox 360 and Windows 8 tablets (which are a big deal this year, for whatever reason), but I imagine there’ll be plenty of apps for Windows XP/Vista/7 owners, too. The apps also featured a full-screen Zune 4.0-style screensaver as well, with all of the Zune’s Metro-themed iconography as well. As for mobiles, it’s safe to say that only Windows Phone owners will get this, but if they truly want the service to succeed, they’ll need to confirm some Android/iOS goodness.
The service re-launch comes later this year.