Microsoft’s Zune has been officially dead for over a decade. The company discontinued the MP3 player back in 2012. But it’s coming back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe this weekend with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Microsoft is using the opportunity to promote STEM learning.
In the final moments of the last Guardians movie, released in 2017, Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord received a Zune to replace his destroyed cassette tape Walkman. Retro tech and music are a big theme in this film series, so it made sense to give Star-Lord an obsolete piece of tech that played more contemporary music.
Star-Lord’s Zune also appeared in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. However, Microsoft never attempted to capitalize on the Zune’s presence in those films. Likely because it would be silly to try to sell a product that was discontinued.
However, that’s changing with the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy. This past week, Microsoft released a Guardians-themed video featuring the Zune playing music as the heroes of the film and real-life astronauts handing off the device to each other. At the end of the 45-second spot, Microsoft directs viewers to Zune.net, where they can participate in the Azure Space challenge.
Azure Space seeks to promote learning what it calls the “space industry.” It offers several modules to instruct visitors on the current state of the space industry and its key players. Visitors can complete modules about cloud computing in space, 3D printing, networking services, data roles, analytics, and more. You may not learn how to be an astronaut, but Azure Space provides what could be the first step toward a job in space for many users.
So, what started as a gag in a science fiction comedy movie may turn out to be a tool to recruit essential people into the space industry. Not a bad fate for a product that couldn’t beat the iPod.