Microsoft plans to drop all of its Zune models except for a new high-definition (HD) version that is due out in two weeks, the company has confirmed.
Microsoft said it will continue to offer the flash Zune 4GB, 8GB and 16GB devices and the 80GB and 120GB hard-drive devices until they are sold out. However, the Zune HD device - which will be available on September 15 and features a touchscreen, HD radio, HD video-out capabilities and an Internet browser - will be the sole Zune device the company manufactures going forward.
Microsoft also plans to launch updated Zune software and service when the Zune HD becomes available. Additionally, a Zune video service will be available on Xbox Live, Microsoft's marketplace for its Xbox game console and related products, later this year, the company said.
News that Microsoft was dropping all of its Zunes except for the HD version was reported Wednesday on longtime Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows blog.
The Zune HD, the first touchscreen version of Microsoft's multimedia player, is meant to bring the product on par with Apple's iPod Touch and give Microsoft a stronger competitor against other high-end MP3 and video players.
The Zune, introduced first nearly three years ago, has not fared particularly well against competitors. Microsoft dissolved its separate Zune division some time ago and the product now is part of its TV, video and music business, which Corporate Vice President Enrique Rodriguez oversees.
The product is currently only available in the US, and Microsoft has not revealed plans to release it in the UK.