Right from the Start: Xbox Music

Right from the Start: Xbox Music

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A few weeks ago, we published a blog post about more than 20 new and improved Microsoft apps and services that will come right from (the) Start on your new Windows device with Windows 8.1. That post was the first in a series of blog posts that we will be publishing over the course of the next few weeks that will go into more detail on many of those apps and services.

In this post, we will talk about Xbox Music, which brings you all the music you love, every way you want it. The new Xbox Music comes with Windows 8.1, which is a free update for Windows 8 consumers starting on Oct. 18th.


The Best Way to Listen to Music on Windows

When it comes to music, there are a lot of choices out there. No matter where your music is today, no matter which service you may use, Xbox Music is the best way to enjoy all your music on your Windows 8.1 device. Xbox Music comes with Windows 8.1, so there’s no app to install – just open Xbox Music and start listening. With a global catalog of more than 33 million songs, it’s one of the largest digital music collections on the planet. Purchase your favorites. Download songs with an Xbox Music Pass. Or stream millions of songs free on Windows 8.1. It’s all there.

Xbox Music has been completely redesigned for Windows 8.1. It’s incredibly easy to manage your existing music collection, add to your collection, stream music for free, and import your existing playlists. Check out some of the highlights:

  • Get it in there: If you already have an existing music collection in your device’s Music library such as songs you ripped from CDs or DRM-free songs purchased from iTunes or Amazon.com – Xbox Music brings in all of it – no fuss, your music is just in there.
  • As much as your ears can handle: Xbox Music gives you unlimited access to millions of songs in the store and the ability to stream and download as much music as you like with your Xbox Music Pass.
  • It’s your music, it should go with you: With your Xbox Music Pass, you can also listen to your music across all your devices including your laptop or tablet, phone, the web, Xbox 360, and Xbox One coming Nov. 22nd. Even your playlists roam across all you devices with an Xbox Music Pass. Xbox Music will even scan and match songs you already own on your device with songs from the Xbox Music Store allowing you to also stream those songs on all your other devices.
  • Turn the Radio on: You can stream millions of songs for free from the Xbox Music Store* and create your own radio stations based on your favorite artists and bands. When you create a “station” – it begins with a specific artist or band, based on that, Xbox Music will pull together similar music for you. It’s one of the best ways to discover new artists related to the ones you already love. With the new Radio feature and the ability to search for and play the songs you want, Xbox Music is the best free streaming music service for Windows.

Completely New Design

Xbox Music in Windows 8.1 is designed around three pivots: your music collection, radio, and the Xbox Music Store (called Explore). Enthusiasts will see a real difference over Xbox Music in Windows 8. A few things worth noting, playback controls are no longer hidden and you can now control the volume specific to Xbox Music separately from the master volume of your device. Check it out…

Windows 8.1_Collection

Bing Smart Search is also integrated into Xbox Music in Windows 8.1. Using Bing Smart Search, you can find musicians, bands and artists presented in a rich field of content, including top songs, albums, videos, images and relevant Web pages. In keeping with what you’d expect from Bing, it makes for a gorgeous experience.

Bing Seach - LP Results II

And coming to Xbox Music with Windows 8.1 on Oct. 18th – you will have the ability to use the Share charm in Windows 8.1 to share a webpage from the browser and have Xbox Music build a playlist based off any music it finds from that webpage (called Web Playlist)! Literally the web can start to be your front door to your music experience.

As I mentioned above – you will be able to enjoy the new Xbox Music as part of Windows 8.1 starting on Oct. 18th when you update your Windows 8 device or buy a device with Windows 8.1. We have been loving it here on the team and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Ryan Gavin
General Manager
Microsoft Apps & Services

*Free streaming limited to 10 hours/month after 6 months; unlimited with paid Xbox Music Pass subscription. Internet required; ISP fees apply.

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  • MTR77
    0 Posts

    Seriously folks, you need to do the following:

    1. Share-able playlists so that I can click a button on web page and open that playlist in xbox music. You guys are way behind spotify on this.

    2. Fund a open source tool for migrating users from spotify to xbox music. I have tons of playlists in spotify and that is the only reason what I cannot move to xbox music.

    3. Add more and more music. You guys don't like bollywood (hindi) and tollywood (telugu)? There is absolutely little to none on xbox music.Whats wrong with you!! Again you are way behind spotify.

    4. Move music dept out of Xbox - Who the hell listens to music on Xbox sitting in front of TV? You got the branding and strategy wrong. Whats wrong with you? You can't think like normal folks like me?

  • mikkol
    0 Posts

    I couldn't agree more with BlueJacketBrad , dmmontal, theoldwolfus and ChrisLynch.  I just 'upgraded' to WP8 from WP7.8 and what a joke the Windows Phone desktop app is.  You are not really expecting folks to sync their music collection w/ that?!  Very, very, very disappointed.  Generally, in the SW development, you end up adding features to SW, not taking them away or more difficult to use...  Wow - I'm completely speechless.....

  • Clearly, the smoke is being blow up someone backside at Microsoft to think that they have fixed Xbox Music in Windows 8.1.  I have installed it and it is still such a disappointment.  There are some many issues.

    1.  Importing playlists is like using a hammer to open an egg.  You can do it but it is a mess afterwards.  The playlists don't sort in any kind of manner.  You can't choose which playlists that you want to import.  Yes, they added support to Zune playlists.  Once the playlist are in the application, you can't delete more than one at a time and you have to open them individually to delete them.  Really a simple ability to right click on an playlist and delete it isn't possible with today's technology.  Really?!

    2.  Adding artist, album art and song info to new music that it finds is non-existent.  (By the way, it appears that functionality has been lost in Windows Media Player as well.  9 of 9 new CD's I try to import into Windows Media Player couldn't be found the database.)  BTW these were mainstream CD releases too.

    3.  Adding new music from CDs from within the application is non-existent.

    4.  Marking songs as favorites is non-existent.  Let alone being able to sync just your favorites to your music device.

    5.  Syncing playlists and music to your Windows 8 phone memory or SD card that is directly connected to your PC is non-existent.

    6.  Syncing playlists and music to your legacy Zune devices that is directly connected to your PC is non-existent.

    7.  Adding songs to a playlist with a single right click on the song is non-existent.

    8. You can't select multiple songs and add them to a playlist.  You have to add them one at a time.  Really!?  How 1999 of you Microsoft.

    9.  No way to identify the difference between songs/albums purchase under Xbox Music; songs/albums that wasn't purchased under Xbox Music, but imported and which are cloud based songs/albums.

    10.  Cloud storage space is very limited.  I have a huge music collection and the best way to manage space on my devices and in the cloud will be by using playlists.  But you can't sync your playlist (with the music) to cloud and then identify that the playlist in the cloud can be synced down to your local device, like your Surface Pro, or your Windows 8 phone or your Zune (yes, I still have two and they are working fine and I still manage all my new playlists inside of the Zune software because is far superior tool to manage my music library that Windows Media Player, or the Xbox Music app.  

    11. When you offer to update music, it should have an option to only update missing information and artwork only.

    So no, you didn't get it right out of the box the first time or this time.... why you didn't rebrand the Zune software is a mystery to so many people, including myself.  Telling people that you did is the height of hypocrisy and borders on outright fraud in a classic bait and switch fashion.

  • Ryan, thank you for the update. It's great to know that Microsoft is working to improve upon XBox Music. Of course when it's the worst product/service ever created by a Fortune 500 company, I guess you can only go up.

    Sarcasm aside, I won't get into documenting again the long list of shortcomings with XBM, and in particular, its terrible integration with WP8. But I honestly hope that you able to turn these criticisms from your most loyal users,  into resources that will enable your team to really develop a world class product that your users can boast about.

    I'm sure you're proud of what you guys were able to do with what little resources you probably had, but you MUST know that what you have is lacking, and your customers are angry. Let's hope the new CEO can be more supportive of your efforts, and that you'll still have WP8 users sticking around to see it improve.

  • mogaar
    0 Posts

    Why oh why did you change the "Now Playing" artist image layout in the new update?! It was really nice before; now the bottom half of the image has been hacked off and destroyed. Look, here's the thing: the bottom bar of the app on my Surface has the play controls and the song info... Why do I need a list of songs right above it? It makes no sense and is terrible looking. A perfect example is happening right now. Aphex Twin is playing and the bottom half of Richard James' face is cut off because of a redundant song list. It's creepy and it looks like he's peering at me from behind a wall.

  • Also, why on 8.1 when you are working on a playlist would you take up almost 1/2 of the top of the screen(on my surface) with Album art and controls, leaving me only the bottom half to scroll through the song in the playlist?   The main thing that I want to do in a play list is edit, sort, add and remove songs.  To do that you want to see what songs are there.  You have taken away valuable real estate to put in a huge square of album art and play controls that are fairly useless.

  • Right from the start?? Didn't Xbox music come out last year?   I have been a Zune user from day one and a Windows Phone user from day one.   Zune and the Music support on the phone was great.  A simple rebrand would have been great.  Instead you start from scratch and take features away.

    Support of Playlists is a disaster at best.   Getting music on my phone could not be harder, and less stable.  I understand you want people to use all the cloud services, but if you are on a plane or don't want to pay for huge data packages it is nice to have music on your device.  You have no way to sync playlists so if you change one, it keeps the playlist in sync.   You should be able to sync your music directly from the app.

    The list of issues is huge.  At least you have started to communicate.  That is the first step.   You need to have weekly communications and start taking feedback.  

  • Has anyone mentioned podcasts yet? Will they be supported "Right from the Start" too? Or will I have to carry on using WP7 and Zune?

  • sjinphx
    0 Posts


    I hope that somewhere deep inside you had a bit of professional embarrassment writing this article. After failure to deliver core functionality in XBM that was present in Zune in 8.0, Microsoft yet again woefully misses the mark in 8.1. How exactly am I supposed to have music "every way I want it" when you can't even get simple synchronization correct or when your cloud services bork my collection?

    As with most things in this product wave, usability and often, functionality, has regressed straight down the toilet. Obviously this does not make for a successful 'devices and services' company.

    Here's to hoping the new CEO manages to clean house and get things right. It appalls me that this is what we end up as a result of your internal stack ranking system. Apparently all of the 5s colluded and got rid of the 1s.

  • Are these features in the new release:

    1. ability to sync a playlist to my WP8 device without having to use a usb cable to my pc?  This means DOWNLOAD the music to the phone, not the list of songs for streaming

    2. ability for my WP8 to AUTOMATICALLY download new songs I put in my synced playlist without my having to initiate.  (Zune had the wireless feature, RDIO and SPOTIFY have the WP8 app that just SYNCS for you when it finds wifi - soooooo sweet)

    3. ability for me to put songs I OWN and MUSIC PASS songs into a playlist and NOT WORRY which is which so that features #1 and #2 listed above JUST WORK.  (in other words: why am I having to deal with songs I own differently than songs I get access to from my MUSIC PASS? For example: I OWN mp3's of some Eagles songs that MUSIC PASS does not have as available - but they have other songs from the Eagles available.. Try adding both to a single playlist and watch the fun when you try to listen to songs you own but MS doesn't have license for..... so pathetic)

    fix these and you have restored most of what made Zune as good as RDIO and SPOTIFY...

    did I mention, long time MS Zune fans, that RDIO and SPOTIFY work pretty well on WP8 --- sorry Microsoft.. I have been waiting over a year for you to unscrew up my music and music apps -- I tell everyone, especially on YOUR SITES about competing music apps -- I figure its the best way to get competition out of you...

    currently we are set to not renew our music pass subscriptions (two) and are using RDIO as a family plan (discount as you add more users which is also nice)


  • I agree with Simon Gregory.  The most basic functions still are not available.  How about being able to delete a song from a playlist with the Xbox Music App for WP8 for instance?  Or gapless play of songs?  Or create a playlist with XBM on WP8 and have it available on XBM for PC?  These very very basic functions that have been available for years on other devices still is not available.  It's just frustrating because Microsoft already had this figured out with WP 7 and Zune so why would the users expect a diminished experience?  People like me went straight for the "upgrade" when WP8 came out only to feel punched in the gut after the realization that we're now locked into a 2 year contract with a device that sucks (speaking specifically about the XBM App) compared to what they gave us before.  Then it's revealed that microsoft doesn't even think highly enough of the music experience to have the designers in Seattle developing it.  It's the French!  No disrespect to the French but when it comes to music related content it should be team Seattle.

  • Unfortunately, people have contacted support regarding these well known problems and got nowhere because these are fundamental flaws in the app itself. There's a lot of frustration here, I think largely because the fruits of the development progress with this platform doesn't seem to be reflect a satisfactory response to the problems that people have been consistently reporting over the last year. You just have to look at the master list of issues page or the uservoice suggestion to see this isn't just a small technical issue affecting a handful of people:


    For instance, even after all the latest updates, these issues exist:

    - duplicate files

    - user rights/DRM issues

    - metadata issues

    - sluggish performance

    - damage to personal music collections

    And compared to Zune, iTunes, (insert other music service here), the service is severely lacking the following basic features:

    - limited syncing functionality

    - collection/ cloud management

    - metadata management

    - playlist management features

    - music rating

    Should we need another list?


    Why are people continually writing them?

    Because this all worked over a year ago (with Zune and WP7.5), it has been broken since W8/WP8 and nothing appears to be happening to resolve any of it.

    The UI did need improving, but what's the point if you can't manage or actually listen to your own music!?

  • I agree with Ranjeet. I've been using 8.1 Preview since it came out and am eagerly awaiting the 8.1 release in October. I recently used a friend's computer with 8.0 on it and had almost forgotten how complicated the old Xbox Music design was. This is definitely a great redesign! Also I recently updated my phone as mentioned in the Windows Phone blog (blogs.windows.com/.../what-s-in-the-new-update-for-windows-phone-8.aspx) and so many of those old problems have been addressed as well. The future looks bright! Keep banging out the updates guys.

  • I have been using the new xbox music app in windows 8.1 and I have to say that I love it. It is very fast and responsive from my prespective. It realty depends on what kind of computer configuration on your desktop/laptop. One thing I would highly highly highly recommend is to get a SSD  and install windows 8.1 , then you will see the full potential of its speed.

    People who are having problems with the syncing your music from laptop/desktop to phone, you should reach the tech support because if people can OTA sync to their phone , it would be a problem with your end. I would recommend reaching tech support to help fix your problem.

    While we have lots of ideas to improve the product, please note Xbox has come a long way to develop an app to listen music and watch videos .I really appreciate the team making big improvements on the app. I would say a great competitor to ITunes.

    I have had difficulties with xbox and I have approached tech support to notify the problem and have managed to solve it at their end.

    People who are still having duplicate songs on their phone should talk to tech support as that last update solve that bug. I had the same exact issue and when I installed the latest update, I didnt see any duplicate songs .

  • The ability to import Spotify playlists, even if only by copy and paste, would be the ultimate win.

  • Congrats - You folks Gen Pure HATE from Day 1. No WMP on RT is insane. I was at a "new" MS Store in a Best Buy and overheard the following: HIM: "We need to get you a new laptop." HER:"Hell no, it got the NEW Crap on it! Just look at it! Like Look at that! HIM: "Well, I guess we never get a new PC again." - and they walked over to the MAC store in Best BUY.

  • Another long time Zune customer here.  I do like the improvements in the XBM app for Windows 8.1.  The experience is improving, but you are a LONG way from getting it "right the first time."  I couldn't agree more with , and .  There are so many issues with the XBM "experience" on Windows 8, and that includes the silliness that is XBM on Windows Phone 8.  Please, listen to the cries of your consumers.  There is a vast list of issues we consumers demand you fix.  The Zune brand name should have been retired in favor of XBM.  But the features and apps should not have been left behind.  It's a shame really.

  • Right from the start? Are you kidding me? Speaking as a guy who really has been there from the start (I bought a Zune 30 and a Zune Pass to go with it at launch), this is a sick joke. The TL;DR for this post is simple: The Xbox Music experience is horribly, horribly broken.

    We're almost a year in from the launch of WP8, and I STILL have the following major problems:

    1.) I can't sync my music from my Zune Pass to my Lumia 920. Well, I can sync it, but it won't play. I get a message saying "We are unable to confirm the media usage rights for this content". Really? I don't have the rights to play it on my WP8 device, but it plays fine on my PC, old Zune and my WP7 device? And if I download it all over again directly to the phone using the *exact same* music subscription service (renamed Xbox Music, of course) I magically do have the rights again? Really, Microsoft?

    2.) The Desktop app for Windows 7 is terrible. I can't even sync individual songs. It's whole albums or nothing. The UI is awful. This is the most damning indictment of the software I can think of: I get better functionality using Windows Media Player, software that is so old that MS has all but abandoned it. Yet it's the best way of managing my media in the latest iteration of Windows Phone. And no, I can't update to Windows 8, because my workplace won't allow me to use anything but Windows 7 on their network. Many people are stuck with Win7 for the long haul - we need a decent app for WP/XBM.

    3.) Metadata management (if you can call it that) still stinks. We still don't have the option of telling Xbox Music to only add metadata that is missing (a feature that was present and beloved in Zune). So I can't use the much-touted cloud features of WP8/Xbox Music, because if I do it will overwrite all my metadata with new INCORRECT metadata. Related to this problem is the fact that I get duplicates of songs in albums, missing songs, albums that are split into two because of different naming conventions (using an ampersand instead of the word "and" in band/album names on some tracks, but not all, so the software thinks that it's two differently named albums. Genius).

    The issues go on and on. I evangelized Zune when it came out, despite most people wanting nothing but an iPod. I defended Windows Phone 7 because I saw the amazing potential, even though iOS and Android were both streets ahead in terms of features. And now I'm stuck with WP8 - easily the best mobile OS Microsoft has ever produced - and I can't use key features that I PAY $15 A MONTH FOR!

    At least this blog post tells me why these issues still haven't been fixed almost a year after launch - you've been spending all your development time and dollars coding apps for iOS and Android. I understand why you're doing this from a business perspective, but as a customer who has supported Zune/Xbox Music from the start (for real, not starting at Win8.1), I can tell you that I am bitterly, bitterly unhappy.

    Please, please fix this for the loyal Zune/WP/XBM customer base that has stuck with you through almost a decade of you building this service. We at least deserve something that works.

  • "Right from the start"? This is pure spin, and a joke for consumers.

    I have been following the updates to XBM on W8.1 preview and I can say first hand that this is no way "Right". Unless the XBM team has plans on implementing some MASSIVE fixes before now and the 10/17 update, this will still largely be the same terrible experience that shipped almost a YEAR ago with W8 / WP8.

    The new interface is nice, that's about it. Major features that virtually every other music management software employs are still missing - i.e. song ratings, sync to device from software (without having to use the terrible / broken WP8 sync tools), ability to input/manage metadata manually, ability to auto-populate metadata without completely overwriting your existing metadata (something they have improved on the mobile version, but not on W8), etc.

    The Master List of Issues with XBox Music thread is largely aimed at the mobile version, but this should give you an idea of how "right" XBM currently is:


  • Right from the start you have ignored an extremely loyal base of Zune users.  From the Win 8 launch and Win phone launch we have been telling you what we need with no response.  Look, everyone knows you guys view the Zune as a failure, but not supporting it or its users really shows what you think of your customers.  You want other users so bad that you are willing to trample on your existing ones.  That is a recipe for disaster - and that is what you have here.  We have defended the Zune since its launch.  A lot of us have put up with a ton of issues with the Zune but still stayed with the Zune pass.  The fact that you cannot easily sync your music using Xbox Music to the Zune is inexcusable.  It recognizes the 360 so why not the Zune?  What marketing genius came up with the thought that screwing over the already built-in customer base from day 1 of the Win 8 launch would make sense?   Instead of being able to say Xbox music already has hundreds of thousands of users and it growing, what are you able to say?  Xbox Music - screws up your playlists, won't sync to Microsoft's own devices - has tens of listeners.    I had high hopes for Xbox Music and the Win 8 phone.  I am extremely disappointed in both.  It is time to move on to iPhone or Android and another subscription service.

  • So, when will I be able to access my cloud collection from my Windows Phone.  VERY FRUSTRATING!

  • Xbox music is a terrible service, so bad it made me cancel my zune pass. You should really take a look at your own support forums which are full of people complaining about how bad the whole experience is. After almost a year after release it still doesn't work properly (even on 8.1) and keeps failing at basic things such as playing music, throwing random error codes instead.

    The WP8 integration of the service is just complete rubbish.

    Lets not talk about Xbox video which is a rip off and in an even worse state.

    Please stop congratulating yourselves on such a miserable service, and go back to work.

  • "Right from the Start"  Are you freaking kidding me?!

  • This is a horrible app, and just like skype, features come to other phones first.  On my Windows phone, I cannot listen to music for free via Xbox Music.  I have music that is synced to the cloud that I can't even listen to on my phone.  This whole xbox music service sucks!!  It totally screwed up my whole music collection and even with the new updates it continue to!  I have duplicate songs because the app detects that the same song is somehow two different albums.  To add to all my problems, there is no song rating or auto playlists.  The whole service is complete junk!  It's unable to do the simple things right.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Thank you! Love the app.

    Two suggestions:

    - Add the fast forward and backward controls in addition to next and back..

    - In Xbox video, add the ability to download and open captions (subtitles) like media player classic (MPC) does. With new HTTP API, it would be really easy for you to communicate with open subtitles and other services.


  • Korn1699
    114 Posts

    I really hate the Xbox music app.  I have at least 16,000 songs, and it took a lot of hacking around for them to even show up in the app.  Libraries didn't work.  I think I ended up having to go with a HUGE playlist and manually importing that.  I like the Zune app and will continue using that as long as I can.  I realize that Microsoft is pushing people toward store apps, but I am NEVER in that environment...EVER...  I know that I can put the apps off to the side, but I use that space for other apps.  Make something an app for the desktop too if you expect people to actually use it.

  • All of this is great news, especially if the Bing Search experience is the default search experience of the Xbox Music app. The current one is clunky and unattractive. But something tells me it is not.

    I feel kind of bad that whenever you guys push out updates with new features, the response from us the users is almost inmediately a reiteration of features requests that are still missing. We don't even take a second to thank you for the features just implemented.

    Having acknowledge that, it just gives a bad bad image that very simple usability issues and basic features are still missing from a major release of a major front end app of a supposedly major service, ESPECIALLY coming from a major player in the field. There is just no excuse for the slow development of the features we are all missing.

    It would be enough for me to just point to the dozens of comments that will soon populate this post, but I can't finish without mentioning some of the issues:

    - "Completely New Design" is misleading at least. The core of the app it's still the buggy clunky mess that shipped in Windows 8 Consumer Preview more than one year ago. Lipstick on a pig has never been more fitting.

    - Song rating: "Like" and "Unlike" individual songs has been available in WINDOWS PHONE 7 and 8 forever, not to mention in Zune Software.

    - Music Matching: I cannot put into words how disfunctional this feature is, even when matching music manually (great way to spend afternoons when you have a big collection). That the "year of release" data of most albums is just plain wrong doesn't help.

    - Lag lag lag lag... not only in Windows RT, but any powerful computer. How can the ages-old task of skipping a song feel like a LHC-style physics experiment gone wrong every single time?

    - You get the point.

  • And this has just been released for iOS and Android. I have no problem with iOS but I feel sad and angry when Microsoft release app.....beautiful apps to be precise to Android. Look at them, they even refusing us a Youtube app. If Microsoft is thing about money what of Google? Is it that they don't need money from Microsoft based users? They refusing us apps most of them in my daily life and my beloved Microsoft keeps on loving them by giving them beautiful stuff.....damn! Annoys me to hell.

  • Zartan
    22 Posts

    Love the improvements in 8.1, but will we ever see the ability to rate songs and make automatic playlists again?

  • Any chance of getting NAS support from the music app?