Kin Studio closing January 31st, Verizon offers free phones to affected customers

Though the final nail in the Microsoft Kin coffin has yet to be tapped into place, the software that made the pair of ill-fated handsets strangely compelling will soon get the axe. Come January 31st, Kin Studio will be no more, effectively neutering existing Kin phones by removing them from the cloud. They'll still be able to make calls, send SMS, email, browse the web and even stream music via Zune Pass, but their formerly live homescreens will become lifeless, stripped of social networking functionality -- and will actually remain stuck on their very last status update, much like a broken clock. Their online repository of pictures, videos and contacts will cease to exist, though you can back them up to a personal computer if you act now. Thankfully, Verizon seems to understands that not all Kin customers will be happy with a zombiephone, and has taken a drastic measure to help them out -- through March 31st, 2011, Kin owners can trade it in for a free 3G phone of their choice. How kind. Find full Verizon FAQs on the transition at our more coverage links.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]