I received an email from Microsoft this afternoon with the subject “Farewell, Zune. Hello, Groove.” With a subject like that, it was obvious the end was finally near. The email starts out:
As a Zune customer, you’ve been a big part of our music community. Thanks for being with us from the start. Over the years, we’ve continuously worked to evolve our music app and service – and as part of that process, we will no longer support Zune subscriptions or streaming, either on the Zune device or the Zune PC client. These changes will take place in the next month, and may impact you as a Zune subscriber.
I don’t use my Zune HD all that much anymore (even though it still is a great player and one that never received the credit it was due), but I did still take advantage of a longstanding feature. Way back when Zune Pass first became available, Microsoft gave subscribers 10 free song downloads every month as an incentive to subscribe. They discontinued the perk in 2011 but existing users were grandfathered in. When Zune Pass became Xbox Music Pass, I figured that our free tracks would go by the wayside, but amazingly Microsoft continued to make the downloads available. Sure you still had to keep the Zune desktop software around to get your tracks, but free music is free music, and you needed the client to sync with your Zune anyway.
So what happens to the free tracks now that Zune is finally officially going away? They’re gone. They didn’t mention it in the email, but the Zune retirement FAQ goes into detail about what happens to your subscription. Sometime between October 15 and November 15, your subscription gets migrated to a Groove Music Pass at the new rate of $9.99 per month or $99.90 per year depending on your subscription term. Unfortunately a Groove Music Pass does not provide free tracks for anyone, grandfathered or not.
It’s unfortunate, but not unexpected, and to be honest, it’s a credit to Microsoft that they kept it going as long as they did. And while Microsoft isn’t supporting Zune subscriptions or streaming on a Zune device or on the Zune client, you can still use it to play standard MP3s. They can’t take that away from us.
So raise a glass and make a toast to Zune. Zune is dead, Long live Zune!