Zune will be amputated on August 31

Several Zune features will be killed at the end of the month as Microsoft begins to usher in Xbox Music as the predominant media streaming service.Beginning next month, Zune Pass subscribers will no longer be able to access Mixview playback and channel playlists.

In addition, Microsoft will discontinue support for purchasing or streaming music or videos from the desktop client version of the Zune Pass software.

For those who actually have a Zune HD device, social networking features like adding friends and viewing playback history will also disappear.

These changes come as Microsoft launches Xbox Music, a new service designed not only to stream media from the Xbox 360 but also, down the road, through as many different Microsoft software and hardware products as possible.

The Zune platform just gets in the way of that, so it makes sense that Microsoft would want to get rid of it, but without the PR nightmare that would accompany completely killing one service for another one that does the same thing.

Microsoft has assured customers, however, that the core Zune Pass functionality is still available through the Xbox 360. A bare-bones version of the service will in fact remain perfectly intact.

But the question is how long that will last. This is obviously an attempt to get existing Zune subscribers to switch to Xbox Music.