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Microsoft discontinues hard drives, "squircle" from Zune lineup

With the impending launch of Microsoft's iPod touch competitor, the Zune HD, the Redmond, Wash., company will discontinue its previous offerings, which included high-capacity hard drive players and the "squircle" input method.

According to Paul Thurott at the SuperSite for Windows, Microsoft will no longer offer its "classic" line of Zune MP3 players. That includes the flash-based Zunes with capacities of 4GB, 8GB and 16GB, as well as the hard drive-based Zune 80 and Zune 120. The products will only remain available as long as supplies last.

The new Zune HD launches on Sept. 15 with flash memory capacities of 16GB and 32 GB. The new device will have a 480x272 pixel multi-touch screen that displays with OLED technology. Its announced price points are $100 less than Apple's comparable iPod touch models, though that is likely to change next week.

Apple is expected to unveil its new line of iPods at an event scheduled for Sept. 9. Likely on tap are new models of the iPod touch and iPod nano with cameras.

With the discontinuation of the original Zune lineup, Microsoft will no longer offer any hard drive-based players. Many have believed Apple would soon go down a similar route, seeing the iPod classic and its spinning platters as on their last legs.

However, a recent rumor suggested Apple's iconic device may have at least one last new offering available, this time with a camera.