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Goodnight Zune

March 18, 2011: 5:43 PM ET

After five years of false starts, word is leaking out that Microsoft is giving up on its much-maligned portable music player.

By Mark Horowitz, contributor

Microsoft Zune HD

Microsoft Zune HD

Dear Zune:

I gave you the best years of my life, and this is how you repay me, by breaking up? And I had to read about it online. You didn't even have the decency to Skype.

But who am I kidding, Zune, I'll always forgive you, because I always have before.

I remember when you launched, way back in 2006. Sure I was skeptical. But I liked your style, and your "all-you-can-eat" subscription model. iTunes looked like an old spreadsheet program, but your interface was sophisticated, and your recommendation algorithms really got my taste in music. Apple (AAPL) never really understood me, Zune. Together, we were going to teach those smug little Apple fanboys a lesson, because a Mac version was just around the corner. (That turned out to be your first broken promise, but not your last.)

Still, I stood by you during those difficult early years: You weren't the prettiest piece of hardware, at first, and your software was a little bloated and slow. But you slimmed down and sped up eventually, and I never doubted that given more time you might someday have stopped crashing all the time. More

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