Microsoft notifies Zune Pass users of impending changes, loss of features on August 31st

Xbox Music

We just received our email notification from Microsoft about the soon-to-happen changeover from Zune Pass/Zune Music to Xbox Music. While most of the features seem to remain, including being locked in your $10 or $15 a month subscriptions (the latter for old school users), there are some significant changes that we’re not exactly too excited about.

The changes are due to rollout August 31st, leaving little time to adjust to those new adjustments. The features that we will be losing in a few days are the following...

  • Sending and receiving messages, inviting friends, sharing the songs, playlists, and albums you are listening to, and viewing past play history
  • Mixview playback and channel playlists
  • Apps for Zune HD
  • Purchasing music videos or streaming them as a part of Zune Music Pass from the Zune PC software
  • Re-downloading, re-activating, or re-licensing previously purchased music videos if / when you upgrade your PC  

That means under-baked features like Zune Social, something we always wanted for Windows Phone, will be going away in addition to those Zune HD apps, which are finally being given the axe.

It is also surprising to see that video purchases or streaming via Zune software will no longer being supported, as presumably Microsoft transitions to a yet undefined Xbox Video service this fall for Windows 8.

The big kicker is the in ability to re-activate or re-license previously purchased music videos, putting users like ourselves in a bit of a rush to make sure all our music videos are unlocked and DRM free between all our PCs.

What bothers us the most, we suppose, is all of these changes are removing features while we are getting nothing in return. Will that change once Xbox Music goes live? We sure hope so.

WP Central


Reader comments

Microsoft notifies Zune Pass users of impending changes, loss of features on August 31st


I just got the email too. While I don't use the video streaming much (I think my daughter does), I'm concerned about the Zune HD apps going away, as I still own one besides my Windows Phone. Not sure what will happen there. Will the apps continue working? What if I have to reformat the unit? I won't be able to reinstall those apps, essentially turning the Zune HD into a simple music player.

Most of the HD Apps were discontinued long ago anyway. I know Facebook on Zune HD broke a long while ago due to FB API changes and Microsoft not updating. There were a few games, I guess that were fun, but are they really that big of a loss? Just curious of your thought...

Well, I'd have to say that they should get to porting over Audiosurf Tilt and the ZHD Labyrinth, because those games were amazing, and I still turn on the Zune from time to time to play them.

With Xbox Music on windows 8 you can log in to your Zune account and download music but you can't play what you downloaded or have already downloaded unless you install the Zune software. Xbox Music App actually sucks compared to the Zune player, buggy, feature less and seems incomplete. I'm hoping for quick updates starting with DRM recognition.

Per Paul Thurrott "Zune Music Pass, which will be rebranded as Xbox Music Pass, will continue. And Microsoft is adding a feature called Xbox Music cloud collection, which provides SkyDrive-based music access for all of its Xbox Music clients, including the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8/RT-based PCs running the Xbox Music app. Neither of these developments has been announced publicly yet." http://www.winsupersite.com/blog/supersite-blog-39/xbox-360/xbox-music-coming-microsoft-cuts-zune-features-144140

Im not paying them until I see the transition.. MSFT tried to charge me $99 bucks for the whole year, good thing I have a prepaid card.. Lol

Also, if you have an xbox, you can still stream music videos through there, essentially only removing your ability through the Zune software. Doesn't really affect me. You can always open youtube and stream just about any video through there. No biggie MS, All is good in the hood.

I don't think music re-downloads ever existed. Once you get the MP3 you can do whatever you want with it, but I don't think you can download multiple times because that would result in massive piracy.

Yeah and I prefer vevo. I never knew the software would stream videos. I would try it and it would ask me to buy it. But on the Xbox it worked.

No big deal to me.  I'm more excited about the move to Xbox music than I am about the small annoyances we encounter during this transition.

These changes are extremely disappointing.

I loved using the Smart VJ feature on my xbox and let it play.

Losing what you already bought is a complete load of bs. I may have to give some serious thought about continuing even though I love it since I own windows pcs, windows phone and xbox. They keep removing stuff instead of adding.

Reread the email ... we're not losing anything other than music videos, and seriously, that's not such a big loss. Go to YouTube and get them free. You're also assuming that there aren't coming changes to replace these existing options. My advice... relax until we know more. :)

According to the email, you can still do all of that. Here's the quote "
These changes will NOT affect music streaming or downloading as part of Zune Music Pass, impact songs that you have purchased from Zune Marketplace, or change your ability to stream music videos on Xbox 360." wh

I just posted on the forums about this too.

I think this is the decision to split the service into Xbox Music and Xbox Videos. My big question is whether there will be subscription options for TV/movies (similar to Amazon Prime and Netflix). If so, it's about time! If not, it will be the first major disappointment I've heard in this platform launch.

As a Zune Pass subscriber, I'm still on the $15/month plan for unlimited subscription songs plus 10 owned songs per month. There's no incentive for me to buy the songs though, so I'll probably switch to a lower plan for unlimited songs and then spend the saved money on a video subscription (again, assuming it's offered).

It doesn't say anything about not being able to re-license/download/etc. music (in fact, it says that is unaffected). Just music videos.

It's only music videos that you can't redownload or register, not song or music. I had to read it twice myself to make sure what it was saying. I liked seeing what other people were listening to and also like to see what my most played songs are, so if those are all being removed then that's lame. They had better add in some new stuff with Xbox music, and not just the ability to store our own music on a server, because while that's nice, it's not something I have a need for.

Where do you get that from? I don't get it. You continue to have ability to buy and store songs offline and on your Zune or Windows Phone, so what's the problem, and how is that like Slacker or Pandora?

I've actually used the Zune pass for a while, and I eventually just subscribed to slacker over the Zune pass. I even owned a Zune 8gb player. I loved the music finding abilities, but otherwise all I got was what I get out of slacker, music on the go. I dunno, I certainly tried it just never really found the feature I needed. Shrug.

Zune Pass isn't a "radio." You get to CHOOSE what songs you want to listen to. Not "what sounds like that song you like" via Pandora, Slacker, etc.

I guess I get that, but I already own all the music I would want to choose.  If I like it then I own it.  If I dont own it then I usually would just hear it on the radio, like I do with Slacker.  I have a large music collection that is already on my phone, add slacker and whatever podcasts I want and I'm good to go.
I guess it is for people who have wide ranging tastes and do not own music to play.  That's just not me.  I actually wish they had radio stations in Zune so I could find new music to buy, that is something I do a lot with slacker.  I hear new music I like and note the band so I can buy it later.

You also get the ability to download all the music you want for OFFLINE listening. Which to me is the best part of the service....try listening to Pandora or any other streming service in the gym.This way you can "cherrypick" the good songs off albums.

As long as my playlist created on Xbox follows my profile, instead of living only on the device created. My music and music video playlists should follow me no matter what Xbox I log into, including my phone. Smart VJ feature rocks though.

I got the feeling the buying portion meant the 15 a month plan. As those are the DRM free versions. Redownloading means nothing as you couldn't anyway if it was the DRM free version. The videos thing is interesting as I have a ton of videos our based through Zune I have yet to watch.

Totally off topic, but I'm pissed Crackle update completely destroyed the app by removing most of its content. Remembered one user here in WP saying ut was stupid that Crackle on WP had so much mire content then on Xbox... Well, now it's the same bs, hope at least you're happy. Uninstalling.

As long as I can't still listen to the songs I have already downloaded previous to this, whatever. And as long as I can still use my ZHD with Xbox music, again whatever. I get movies through other means and usually get music the same way I get movies.

Looks to me they are phasing out the Zune Software. All the features being pulled are from the PC. I didn't use the Video portion of the Zune Software. But unless I want to download podcast OTA, the Software is the only way to go. They better replace the Windows Phone Syncing, if they are phasing that software out.

I guess The Social is over.
I am seriously going to miss Mixview, but the rest of the features I can live without.  They only specify viewing videos on PC, does this include Xbox?

No, you will still be able to stream music videos through your xbox. According to the email this will not "change your ability to stream music videos on Xbox 360. "

I'm really disappointed about the loss of the social aspect. I like seeing what my friends were listening to and checking out all my past plays. Also I had about 26000 plays with alot of badges. It was kind of cool seeing how much u liked listening to a band. This sux

The social aspect never made sense to me, not the social bit, just why the counters only worked if you listen to music on your PC. I listen to music on my W7 phone and Xbox all the time but the counters never increased, always said zero when I logged it. Didn't make sense considering its the same account.

I agree about the social thing, I also like being able to see what friends are listening to and how many plays they have. Also find new music to listen to by seeing what others are listening to. I hope they keep the play counter as well, but they probably won't. I am currently at 165,182 plays and couting daily. I wish they would just do a rebrand of the zune pc software and leave it alone for us dedicated users who actually appreciate how good this software really is and hate the pOS known as crudtunes. Wish they would have left the 1-5 star feature too while I am ranting, the stupid heart rating system is too limited for creating smart playlists with. :D
EDIT: You can get your social back by doing the same thing as the app store registry fix, but instead of creating an "apps" dword value, create a "Social" dword value and set it to 1. Then you will be able to see the play count and your friends again.

We will lose "Re-downloading, re-activating, or re-licensing previously purchased music videos if / when you upgrade your PC" this is why people download illegal movies/videos. Personally I don't buy any music or video that has DRM attached to it to avoid stuff like this from happening to me.

I am an old school user w/ the $15 plus 10 credits subscription. I for one used all the services mentioned & am disappointed they are going away. Like Daniel said "what are we getting in return?" I am currently beta testing the Xbox Fall Preview & am still available to stream music & video in the Xbox Music tab. Nothing special or new. I hope they would integrate the one Zune HD feature that did not make to WP7 which is being able to share music on social networks with your own comments. Please bring back & reinvent these features you're taking away in Win8/WP8 music services.

What's so ridiculous about that? I'm getting less service for the same price. I'll essentially be getting the same service as I would on Spotify, and they at least give me better kbs/s on the music. I'm a loyal Zune customer and I use my Zune HD daily but I'm not going to be taken advantage of.
I hope there are some better things coming when Xbox music hits.

I agree! If you're getting less than what you're paying for, then yes, you should pay less for the service. Not ridiculous in the least. But we all know that won't happen. The price will go up once Xbox music catches on.

The loss of the social features sucks as I shared songs and playlists all the time. The other stuff is pretty minor as I never used Zune HD or the video features anyway. Just give me my unlimited music for $9.99 a month and i'm a happy camper.

I was surprised it said about repurchase music, when really it was music videos. Although it has a little effect on me (not being able to stream music videos on PC) its ok because I only use Zune pass for music and watching music videos on Xbox anyway.

No skin off my nose.  I do not trust streaming services, all my music is on hard copy or backed up.  I don't have to worry about which company lost the rights to stream which music, or which company pulled its movies off netflix, etc etc. 

Me too. I still buy CDs. They're 5 bucks or less at the used shop and they're mine for freaking ever unless I lose them. Even if I do download some tracks the first thing I do is rip them to CD so they can't come after me with whatever DRM BS they dream up next.

Yep I've thought the same. Cancelled my Zune pass yesterday, If you've got internet access you can always create playlists on Youtube (personally what I do now) and then your £8.99 a month (as it is in the UK) can easily buy 2-3 cds a month.

Gotta say I misinterpreted the article (haven't read the email yet). I thought they were changes across the board, not just the PC client.

I panicked when I read the headline, but after reading it, I realized how silly I was being. xD My boatload of music remains untouched :D

Will Microsoft be issuing refunds upon request for people who prepaid for a year of service and who valued the deleted features?  I hope so.

I love comments like slayerspecials on the crackle app...um its free. It streams movies... Um its free.. Did I mention its free? Stop complaining ,stuff like that drives me nuts the app works and works well if your not happy with the amount of content get Netflix which you pay for ( which is a awesome price ) but people can we please stop complaining and be happy that developers are actually finally brining some of these long awaited apps to the windows phone platform

Do you like a turd ? it's free. Anyway the comment was regarding stupid content restrictions from country to country, and there's no Netflix in my country. I'd pay in a heartbeat, as a matter of fact I'm not a fan of free, for the simple fact we seem do loose our right to demand quality, I hate free!

what i don't understand is how will i migrate all my drm content to xbox music? i am fine with canceling zune and using xbox but i have a ton of drm content that i pay 10$ a month for. and right now i am using windows 8 release preview and the xbox music portion does not play any of my zune music! what the heck am i suppose to do that email i reiceved too did not answer that question

Unfortunately, you might be out of luck.  Lucky for me I kinda saw the writing on the wall so when Microsoft finally went full .MP3 I started re-purchasing all the music I purchased that had the .wma DRM in it.  
Hopefully, they will work something out for people like you but im sure this is the scenario that the Music Labels wanted to see anyway.

the problem is that the zune brand has a lot of bad media attention attached to it, whereas the xbox brand is regarded much higher, so it somewhat makes sense for them to lump all entertainment outlets under that brand.
it also simplifies the hubs for people who consume a lot of their content on the xbox, since they now just will jump into the music and video sections of their xbox as well as similar sounding apps in windows 8 instead of a myriad of brands that make the microsoft ecosystem look more fragmented than it really is.

Heh. Outlook.com put my email in the spam folder. I love my music pass and have been using it for over a year, but I didn't know that any of those discontinued features existed.

So is Zune software being discontinued, will they have a new software release or how all is that working out. What will our option be say on a Windows XP/7 computer to listen to our "Xbox Music Pass" (Zune at Heart) on our computer just streaming through say "XboxMusic.com"? Where does Zune.net fit into all this? And I thought you could still share music you were listening to via Xbox Live account. Is this not all integrated through the Xbox 360 services?

zune.net will most likely be phased out and replaced with a portal on xbox.com or something of that nature.
win7 and earlier verisons will utilize new software (xbox music) and otherwise should work the same, for them to do anything otherwise would make no sense.
this email seems to announce the death of the zune brand, but not the actual featureset (aside from the social aspect, which seems to partly be replaced with mainstream social integration in windows 8 at least)

This ticks me off as it isn't the first time that I've lost access to PURCHASED content from Zune.  A few years back, one of the support people had me use the DRM reset tool to fix a problem and it wiped my licenses for all of my purchased content.  I lost about $600 of music that she said she couldn't fix.  I recieved no help or redress...
I've been a HUGE fan of Zune since it came out.  Between owning every different version (yes, I even own 8/16/32 GB HDs), I've purchased 11 Zunes for myself and friends and family over the years.  It was the feature I looked forward to most on Windows Phone. 
As of writing this, I have 374,905 plays thru Zune and a ton of badges etc.  I will miss the Social element and feel that it is one of the bigger features that Microsoft failed to utilize for the platform.  SmartDJ was incredible.  I don't know if there is a bigger Zune fan out there, but I can't help but feel like I have been continuously screwed for embracing this platform.  Not thru the service (which is the best out there IMO), but by Microsoft and their policies.

do i have to use a drm ripper to get my all my downloaded zune music convereted to mp3s and then dump them into xbox music folder so xbox music will recognize and play them? does anybody else have this problem or am i missing the answer to this question?

your downloaded (purchased) music should already be in DRM free mp3 format.
as for the zune pass music, that seems like it will still work with no issues, you'll just have to sync with their new app.

Thats not necessarily true.  His/her music will only be in MP3 format if they set it up that way and if the music was purchased after Zune was converted to MP3.  Anything purcased before the switch is likely still in .wma which likely has DRM.

even if it's from the pre mp3 shift, purchasing it should remove all DRM, even if it remains in wma format, which windows phone has no issues playing.

What about our playcount? i'm sitting pretty at 283,792 plays. 
I Still have a few peeps on zune social that I chat to once in a while.
Bringing over some of zune social to windows phone 8 and windows 8 would have been sweet.

i feel like people are reading this wrong, they are saying features like sharing through zune social (and the zune software) and music video purchases and streaming from the zune software are going to be discontinued, which point to an impending release of the xbox music app (or whatever they are going to call it) for windows 7 and other legacy versions of windows, as it seems like all that will be handled in the music and video apps in windows 8.
sharing through the music app in win8 (i'm on RTM right now) is much better and easier.
the discontinuation of the zune software is probably also a big reason for them dropping support for the zuneHD apps.
we'll find out in short time what's up their sleeve anyways
also, how awesome would it be if the "whole lot more" was free movie/tv show streaming for pass holders.

the zune software is on its way out, and will be replaced by a new app, the music and video apps in windows 8 most likely, and some kind of xbox music app for legacy.

Windows 8 has a devices charm, I am assuming a switch will be made at some point and the windows phone will be connected to the library via "devices". Just guessing....

It would be nice if we could push all our purchased stuff to SkyDrive via Zune now. That would prevent the need to download anything again.

This is why there has been a community trying to bring last.fm scrobbling integration to the Zune player for years. It is a big wiki for every single artist, mainstream or not & you have global play stats, loved track + social features across any music service you wish to use. Even WMP is integrated via a plugin so I wish it's finally built in when Xbox Music is officially released. It's a shame users will lose their play stat data that they've built up over the years.

I think anyone worried should know like everyone he understands that Microsoft is discontinuing one product parts of (Zune) and re-launching all this stuff via XBOX Music- ... I am sure Steve Ballmer won't leave the Zune HD peeps in the dust! I believe since XBOX shows friends stats that XBOX Music will be showing you're friends music information if the choose to enable it!

Need an edit function for the Windows Phone version of the WPCentral app... Anyways I have a lot of faith in this transition am thinking there are a lot of young gamers working at Redmond Camp these days who want a lot of cool features...

You can edit, just press to delete and you're given the option to re-write it, only problem being if it's an answer to someone it'll cease to be an answer and behaves like a normal post.

I Just Don't understand how MS can go backwards on this.... Zune IS or WAS better than everything else out there... OK I get it, the Zune brand didn't Catch on, so MS decided to rebrand its music & video services to the well known Xbox Brand ok, but to go backwards and strip it of features and water down the experience... All they needed to do was replace the word Zune with Xbox and call it a day. ...

They probably dont want to keep paying studios to relicense the songs. The transition to Xbox Music might kill all their contracts with musicians.

I'm fine as long as the basic syncing/transfer software continues to work with both my Zune 80 and my Windows phone. I've never used the streaming or purchased music through Zune having always gotten my music either from my own CD's or Amazon. As long as I can sync for photo/music/video tranfer I'm good.

most of my zune music libary is downloaded zune pass content not purchased mp3s once i stop paying for the service the content is drm locked. my question still is how do i migrate that to xbox music? even now xbox music doesn't recognize or play my zune pass drm content

You see, in my opinion you wont be able to stream with zune , as zune is going to be removed , and as a new software appears, it will offfer youthe same service

ZuneHD apps gone? i got this email long ago i was scared, what if my ZuneHD bugs out and formats its self how will i get audio tilt and other time killing apps back? i love my ZuneHD and i really dont want anything else actually i been planing on picking up my 4th one soon... this MS is going to far atleast let us make some sort of backup or just download them to our PC

I was very worried about this as well. We use an old 16 gb HD as our daughter's "Ipod Touch" to play games on so she can't buy apps by accident we can restrict her internet access. My wife didn't get to put all of the apps on this ZuneHD before they were removed from the marketplace. When I got home today I was dismayed to see that all access has been removed. HOWEVER! I synced the player and immediately the apps from my collection began syncing to the phone from the Zune software. So it looks like they are still housed in my PC collection, just not accessible via the software anymore. It also seems you can still download apps directly onto the ZuneHD through the marketplace with an internet connection. PHEW!