Microsoft is leaning into the Zune joke featured in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 movies by partnering with NASA, Redwire, and the International Space Station National Laboratory to promote STEM education. The tech giant is embracing the diversity and inclusivity depicted in the Guardians of the Galaxy series, which showcases a team of individuals from different backgrounds, species, and planets, each with their unique set of skills and perspectives.

For those who do not know, Zune is a discontinued line of digital media products and services which was marketed by Microsoft from November 2006 until June 2012. The range included portable media players, digital media player software for Windows PCs, a music subscription service called “Zune Music Pass,” music and video streaming services for the Xbox 360 game console through the Zune Software, music, TV and movie sales, and desktop sync software for Windows Phone. The device was intended to compete with the iPod but never really gained any attraction. It first appeared in the second Guardians of the Galaxy instalment, where it replaced Peter Quill’s even more outdated cassette tape player.

To kick off the collaboration, Microsoft has introduced a range of space-themed activities and resources at the previously defunct Zune.net website. Students and teachers are encouraged to explore 3D printing in zero-gravity environments, learn about the design process, and understand its impact on the future of human presence in space. Alongside this, Microsoft is providing a teacher’s guide, which includes ISS 3D printing resources and activities for classroom use.

Additionally, Microsoft is challenging participants to “Guard the Galaxy with Azure Space” by coding an experience that allows them to pilot the Guardians’ new ship through deep space and update damaged satellites. Furthermore, tech enthusiasts can follow a tutorial on reviving a Microsoft Zune in 2023, with tech guru Scott Hanselman showing how to restore the media player to optimal condition. Participants can also create their own music player using a tutorial from MakeCode Arcade.

Microsoft, NASA, the ISS National Lab, and Marvel Studios aim to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue careers in space-related fields and provide resources to ignite their passion. The collaboration offers various learning paths inspired by NASA scientists, preparing students for careers in space exploration. STEM-focused resources developed by NASA for students and educators at every level are also available.

With the Guardians of the Galaxy series serving as a catalyst for the partnership, Microsoft and its collaborators hope to empower the next generation of space explorers by offering diverse educational opportunities and resources.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the highly anticipated final installment in the popular Marvel superhero series, is set to hit theaters on May 3, 2023 in the UK. The film, written and directed by James Gunn, features an ensemble cast, including Chris Pratt, Zoe SaldaƱa, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, and many more. In this epic conclusion, the Guardians embark on a mission to protect Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) from the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), while still coping with the loss of Gamora. Fans eagerly await to see if the Guardians can overcome the challenges ahead and save the galaxy one last time.