Purported images of the next Zune, the Zune HD, were splattered all over the internet last week, but information was scant. Now we have a sketchy Zune HD website, and the artwork has disappeared. UPDATED.

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ZuneHD.net looks like a typical corporate placeholder site, but the fact that it was registered through Domainsbyproxy.com—a private registration service—after the initial leak is a bit suspect. Microsoft often registers domains through third parties, but as in the case of the regular Zune website, it's usually with firms like CSC, who specialize in anti-squatting measures and intellectual property enforcement, not simple registrar concealment. So, in other words, there's a good chance this is just a squatter trying to cash in. UPDATE: Yeah, looks like it.

Secondly, the artist who apparently originally hosted the images on his portfolio site has pulled them. What does this mean? Nothing, really. Microsoft could—and probably would—have asked him to pull the images whether or not there is a Zune HD.

So as far as raw information goes, we're right about where we started. We've got plausible, exciting images, reason to believe that they were produced for Microsoft, a few rumor-bolstering sources, but no official confirmation of anything. Unless, of course, you take Microsoft's continued silence on the issue as a tacit sign—after all, they could have killed these rumors right out of the gates, and haven't. [ZuneHD.net, DavidYChun—Thanks, Daniel and Aaron!]

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