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From the Poetry Foundation website's Favorites page:

Due to needed upgrades to our website, we will be discontinuing our Favorites feature and user accounts effective Sunday, March 27, 2016. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Why is it "we will be discontinuing" and not "we will discontinue"? What is the difference in meaning, if any?

Google Ngram fails to return any results for "we will be discontinuing", although the phrase is fully legit, as Google Books Search attests.

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    The salient point there, I feel, is that the discontinuation is going to take time and will likely not be fully completed on the day specified, so the progressive form is used to emphasise the continuous nature of the task (as per Barrie England's post in the other question thread) – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 11:29
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    Even if the contemplated action does not need to be phased in but can happen at the flip of a switch, a person might choose the be + -ing form to convey a sense that they are being obliged to discontinue, thereby "softening" the blow. "We will be discontinuing" may be perceived as being less severe or less peremptory than "We will discontinue". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 12 '16 at 11:33
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    @MaulikV Kind of ironic that the Poetry Foundation wrote a terrible service announcement. ;) – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 11:36
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    @JohnClifford Yes, they should've borrowed one from Shakespeare or Dryden. "Lo thus, as prostrate in the dust I write my heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears. We discontinue a feature bright that served so well the users all these years" – CowperKettle Mar 12 '16 at 11:37
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    @Maulik: "effective {point-in-time}" is idiomatic, no need for a preposition, though it is terse and businesslike. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 12 '16 at 11:38
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+100

First, both phrases are legit and the author might use either interchangably. With regards to the intended meaning, either phrase could be correct.

However, as the other comments mention the purpose of saying "discontinuing" might be to imply an ongoing situation, whereas "discontinued" implies that the situation has been resolved at that point.

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Unless it is a process that will take more than one day, their choice of words is not ideal.

As you surmised, a more accurate phrase to use would be:

Due to needed upgrades to our website, we will discontinue our Favorites feature and user accounts effective Sunday, March 27, 2016. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

This phrasing makes it clear that the Favorites feature and user accounts will no longer be available as of the date specified. This is likely their plan, as it would be unusual for a webmaster to slowly disable the functionality over time.

The modified phrasing, as recommended above, removes the ambiguity and makes their announcement more clear.

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