I thought I had already written by final Zune obituary, but this week Microsoft told the remaining few Zune users and Zune Pass subscribers that the ride is finally over. It is the end of an era.
As you may know, Microsoft offered a unique subscription service to Zune users: in addition to the “all you can eat” music subscription, Zune Music Pass subscribers would also get 10 free songs each month. Since this was a costly service, and didn’t really help Zune Music Pass take off in any appreciable way in the market, Microsoft eventually discontinued this offering. So Xbox Music Pass and now Groove Music Pass both do not offer this benefit.
That said, Microsoft has to-date grandfathered in remaining Zune Music Pass subscribers. So anyone who kept their original subscription has continued receiving 10 free songs each month for the past several years.
That is ending. As is support for Zune in general.
In an email sent to Zune Music Pass subscribers, Microsoft revealed that it will be converting everyone over to the Groove Music Pass. And it will be discontinuing support for Zune subscriptions on Zune devices and the Zune PC software.
“As a Zune customer, you’ve been a big part of our music community,” the email message notes. “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.”
“Current Zune subscribers will automatically transition to Microsoft’s new Groove Music Pass, which lets you stream and download 40 million songs ad-free to your PC, Xbox, tablet, the web, and compatible phone (including Android, iPhone and Windows Phone),” the email continues.
In a related Zune Retirement FAQ, Microsoft provides the timing for this change: November 15, 2015.
“As of November 15, 2015, Zune services will be retired,” the site explains. “You will no longer be able to stream or download content to your device from the Zune music service. However, Zune devices will still function as music players and any MP3 content that you own on the Zune device will remain there. You’ll also be able to transfer music to and from your Zune player. Existing Zune Music Pass subscriptions will be converted to Groove Music Pass subscriptions.”
If you are a Zune Music Pass subscriber, you will be switched to a plan that matches your existing plan. The annual rate is $99.90, while 3-month and 1-month subscriptions are $9.99 per month. If you choose to cancel your subscription, you may get a partial refund for the unused portion of your remaining subscription: Microsoft says it will email those customers separately.
While I know this will be disappointing to some, this event rates pretty low from an angst perspective: It’s not like Microsoft didn’t give original Zune Music Pass subscribers the option to keep going for quite a while. In fact, I’m surprised it lasted this long.