Update: It looks like the ZuneHD Marketing director is leaving MS two weeks before the unveiling.  

As Apple preps itself for its annual September iPod refresh keynote, Microsoft has kissed the Zune goodbye – but the company hasn’t abandoned its pipedreams for the portable media device market entirely.  Instead it is now simplifying its offering around the Zune HD, which goes on sale on September 15 (US only).

The company’s focus on touch is also reflected in its promised Windows Mobile 6.5 OS, which it will make available from October. This integrates touch capacities as Microsoft continues to lag behind Apple in its implementation of new mobile technologies.

“While you can preorder the Zune HD right now from a handful of electronic retailers, your choices are somewhat limited,” reports Paul Thurrot. “In pre-order form, you can only get a black body style by getting the Zune HD 16 GB. And if you preorder the 32 GB version, you can only get it in platinum. But if you wait until September 15, you can choose either color in either capacity, and if you order on Zune Originals, you’ll be able to customize your device further with other colors and etchings.”

Which is exciting news to consumers wanting to get on board the Zune HD train.

As part of its stab at the iPhone, Microsoft has also announced that a range of new mobile phones featuring the latest version of Windows Mobile will hit stores on 6 October. These offer an improved user interface, better browsing capabilities and access to services such as the Windows Marketplace for Mobile and the back-up and the free sync service Microsoft My Phone. Interestingly, despite Microsoft’s development of the Silverlight multimedia standard, the software also supports Adobe Flash Lite.

Adobe Flash Lite was of course derided by Apple CEO Steve Jobs as not being sufficiently tuned for mass market use.

 

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