It’s been an unnecessarily slow, cruel death for Zune. Microsoft’s music service—which lets Zune hardware users stream and download tracks—was left to wither on the vine and quietly die. Redmond made it official Wednesday, quietly announcing the Zune is no more and leaving the few people still using the damn thing wondering where they go from here.

To the iPod, of course. Or the Pono. No. Probably not the Pono. Wherever they go, the bigger question is how do those few Zune diehards pick up the pieces?

Although Microsoft will “retire” Zune services on Nov. 15, the company says Zune devices will still work, and anything saved to them will be playable. You’ll also be able to transfer music to and from your Zune. But you won’t be able to stream or download songs from the Zune service. Microsoft is turning off the spigot.

Of course, DRM content “may not play if the license can’t be renewed,” Microsoft says, and any Zune Music Pass subscriptions still out there will be converted to Groove Music Pass subscriptions. That’s the new version of the Zune/Xbox Music Pass, and it doesn’t include the 10 free songs you got each month from Zune. Should you decide to just ¯_(ツ)_/¯ at all of this, your Zune account will automatically upgrade to a Groove Music Pass account, which costs $10 a month and gives you access to 40 million songs. Of course, just how all of this unfolds depends upon your Zune account, and for the five or six of you reading this who might have one, Microsoft explains it all on its support page.

It’s worth repeating that copyrighted music you’ve downloaded with Zune may not play with Groove if the licenses didn’t renew, which is a very real possibility. And it’s worth noting that although your Zune will continue playing all of your old music, anything you stream or download from Groove won’t play on your Zune.

There are rumblings that some Zune power users might make an open source Zune client replacement. Assuming this actually happens, such a client almost certainly would do only the simplest of tasks, allowing you to manage what’s already on your Zune and nothing more. And that depends upon Microsoft making the data accessible. Perhaps that small beacon of hope is enough for you to hold onto the device.

If you’re finally ready to surrender your Zune and go with an iDevice, then connect your Zune to your computer and import everything into iTunes. You can also head to your “My Music” folder and add files to iTunes from here (usually found here: C > Users > MyName > Music or C > Documents and Settings > MyName > My Documents > My Music). Only the music you paid for or used music credits to obtain will be allowed in, of course. Android and other devices are a bit messier, but essentially the same process.

In these dark times, you might find comfort knowing 15 people are watching a Zune 30 GB on eBay right now. You are not alone. And hey, you could have done this.

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The Zune Is Dead. Here’s What to Do With Your Old One