Microsoft will begin retiring the Microsoft Points system in favour of real currency from 22nd August, according to an Xbox.com Q&A which also confirms that the Zune Marketplace is to be replaced by the Xbox Music and Video storefronts as a repository for TV shows, films and tunes.
"Starting as early as August 22nd Microsoft Points will be retired," reads the post in question. "As a result you will no longer be able to rent or buy TV, movie, or music content on Zune Marketplace. We encourage you to spend your points balance prior to this change."
Here's what we know about the dumping of Microsoft Points, as summarised by Microsoft in early June. Once the currency switchover happens, any leftover points you spend will be automatically exchanged for an "equal or greater" quantity of cash, and the same applies to any Xbox Live points cards you redeem. These funds won't be available forever - you'll be able to spend them across 2014 "and for a limited time thereafter".
It's not clear whether Microsoft's encouraging users to spend their points ahead of Zune's retirement reflects a change of policy here. You might want to get shot of your points in the next couple of days, just to be sure. Microsoft has already trialled the real-world currency scheme with selected Xbox 360 owners.
The manufacturer will continue to support unlimited music streaming for owners of the old Zune Music Pass and the new Xbox Music Pass, after the Zune Marketplace bites dust. Owners of the Zune Music Pass will still get their 10 free songs a month, as normal. It's business as usual with a different logo, in short.
Ta, Game Informer.