The next edition of Microsoft's Zune MP3 player might run the company's Windows Phone 7 operating system, if rumours are to be believed. Fuelling that suggestion Microsoft has confirmed that its XNA platform - used to create games on the Xbox and Zune  - will no longer support the current Zune OS, but will run on Windows Phone 7 Series instead.

Michael Klucher, lead program manager for the XNA Development Platform, said in a blog post: "Development for the Zune and Zune HD will continue to exist in XNA Game Studio 3.1, however, in XNA Game Studio 4.0, we’re encouraging you to migrate your games over to the Windows Phone 7 Series platform".

It looks like Microsoft's planning to create a sub-Windows Phone 7 Series OS, without the phone functionality, that will allow developers to port games and apps between a plethora of devices that are going to be available - hence why the company has called it Windows Phone Series, rather than just Windows Phone.

That would bring the Zune HD closer to the rest of Microsoft's products - it currently sits a little detached - and means that it could occupy the same spot in Microsoft's product lineup as the iPod touch does in Apple's. Even better, it may sport the same cross-platform gameplay that the company recently demonstrated.

If true, current Zune HD developers could be left out in the cold, but with the Zune's App catalogue in the tens rather than thousands, that's not something that Microsoft is likely to be too worried about, especially if Klucher's claims that conversion to the Windows Phone 7 platform is "very easy" are accurate.

Could this open up the appeal of Microsoft's portable platform, and give it a fighting chance against the current market leaders - Android and the iPhone OS? Or is it the company finally abandoning support for its much-maligned portable music players? Let us know what you think in the comments.