Xbox Music updated on Windows 8.1, brings new snapped mode and more

Xbox Music update for Windows 8.1

The official launch of Windows 8.1 might not be till the 18th of October, but Microsoft is continually updating their own apps in preparation for the big day. One of those apps that’s been reimagined from the ground up is Xbox Music. When we first played with Xbox Music on Windows 8 last year it completely broke our experience and hearts as to the direction Microsoft was headed. But when we tried out Xbox Music for Windows 8.1 the spark was back. The latest update is minor, but does help round out the experience. Let’s check it out.

The last update for Xbox Music on the Windows 8.1 Preview came out on the August 1st. Back then we saw the app add new details for the artist view, a redesign with new albums and top music galleries, notification improvements, and a general UI fix. Here’s what you’re getting with the update today:

  • Access your now playing list of tracks directly from the left-hand navigation pane
  • See a new snapped mode to make multi-tasking while listening to music easy
  • Performance improvements make launch and navigating to your collection faster

Xbox Music for Windows 8.1 Updated
Look ma, I'm snapped. 

While adding the now playing list to the left-hand navigation pane isn’t monumental, it’s a very welcomed update to make using the app faster. The new snapped mode (which you can see above) is also welcomed. It makes seeing what’s playing easy, beautiful, and quick to access.

Running Windows 8.1 Preview or RTM? Head to the Windows Store to update your Xbox Music app (assuming it didn’t already auto-update). 


Reader comments

Xbox Music updated on Windows 8.1, brings new snapped mode and more


This is where MS really needs to change how they do things. People are tired of announcements, and then oh by the way, gotta wait a month or two or three or more before you get the new software/hardware. This is one area where apple gets it right...they announce completion of a new iOS version or annonce a new phone, and bam, while everyone is still excited about it it's available...often within days.

'If the average user won't have Win 8.1 until the middle of October, why on earth do they care about a new Xbox Music app in it now? Wait to tell me it's new and exciting when I can actually get it, or at least get it soon!"

A lot of our site's readers are running the 8.1 preview edition, which has access to this app now.

I understand that, I'm not saying you shouldn't be reporting it...I'm taking issue with MS's antiquated distribution timing.
I should have made that clearer.

But if you read about these things you most certainly are running 8.1, so whats the problem? The average joe has no clue about this until he gets it.

Running 8 and I'm interested to see what's coming in 8.1. Granted, I'm not an Average Joe, since it's my job to keep up. However, I completely agree with CobaltDragon: Microsoft needs to announce and release. Announce, wait, wait, wait, release tends to annoy people. Xbox One is a bit of an anomaly, but if Microsoft wants Windows 8.x and Windows Phone to take off they can't afford to keep going this route. 

If I had 3 months to sit and think about buying an iPhone every time a new one came out I'd probably have never bought one. Similarily if I didn't have to wait 3 months every time a new WP was announced I'd probably have bought more phones than the 520.

My question is what has changed so drastically in 8.1 that they couldn't offer these updates in Windows 8? Or are they just lumping features in to make the update appear more drastic? These apps should be updated regardless because they were released without basic functionality and not taking advantage of the benefits of the Windows 8 interface.
8.1 is looking like what 8.0 should have been in the first place (Thus the .1 designation) Looking forward to it finally getting here.

They are offering the updates in Windows 8..... .1! This is basically like Windows 8 SP1. Just like all other versions of Windows Microsoft releases them and then gets out some critical updates. Then they release a big lump pile of update which makes the whole thing better.
They probably also want people switching to 8.1 to keep the unification thing rolling, so they'll understandably restrict things to 8.1. Aside from that, it probably takes development time to make some of these things backwards compatible as they may well take advantage of newer OS capabilities, which makes it not worth the investment.

It's not like they are putting up billboards in Times Square about it.

And as I recall, Apple announced iOS7 months ago and its still not available.

lol please....
the update is scheduled to be available in october,  so they should stop every release of apps becuase alot of users decided not to try 8.1 preview. oh yeah, that makes sense! /s
and RTM is not even done, Microsoft its still working on it, so GA will be stable and the most possible bugs free as possible. can you try to research next time? yeah RTM its not the same RTM the used to be years ago.
only because they announced it 8.1 for october, again, why would they have to wait for it to release an update for music app when there are people who can already use it? 8.1 rtm and preview...
and why does it affect you anyway? people who dont have access for 8.1 are, people who chose not to or people who dont even know about 8.1. want the app? install a leaked RTM and end. stop complaining... in october even people who didnt know about 8.1 will have Access to Xbox music... nobody will die

If the average user doesn't even know about the 8.1 Preview, then what on Earth makes you think they'd know about a minor update to the 8.1 Music app? The minority of people that do know about 8.1 are the ones that this article was written for. Besides, you make it sound like MS held some huge press conference to announce this update. More than likely, someone at WPC noticed the update, or someone tipped the off about it, and they wrote an article. I highly doubt that MS asked them to write this...

Sorry, I didn't get a chance to read this earlier because I was too busy reinstalling, I mean, updating iTunes for the 5th time in 4 weeks.

Sorry, what was that? Did you just say that Apple 'doesn't do this?' Actually Apple and Microsoft use the same model for announcements. Apple announced iOS7 back in June at WWDC13. Also, Microsoft usually makes these announcements to generate dev excitement. So that developers start designing theeir applications for Windows 8.1. Same reason Apple does their WWDC event.

really really agree. the previous Full-Bleed "Now Playing" experience was a hallmark of Xbox Music and a differentiated experience to what iTunes and Google Play, et al offer. more and more continues to crammed on the screen (bottom app bars, side app bars...) less typography (typography functions), less interactive iconography overlays on imagery, smaller hero/artist images, smaller album art, stark white iTunes-like themes/schemes that in sum reduce enchantment and diminish the experience.

bios were a great enhancement to the xbox music experience. why did they go? artists have fascinating stories of their rise to success. it was certainly engaging to know the "E True Hollywood story" of your favorites... :'(

I had no issues with the old design and, like you, regret the loss of functionality. But on Xbox.com they show a picture of a laptop running the so called new app, and it has text next to the artist's name. So, not all hope lost. Still, the app just looks different to me.

i agree with you. while there's been a lot of dissatisfaction around technical aspects / missing functionality (always believed to be "en route"), the radical immersive design / Full-Bleed Now Playing experience was something most all enjoyed and was the "raison de vivre" through the Xbox Music growing pains and technical glitches. It's pretty clear that those "preview images" currently on Xbox.com are not same quality of immersive experience that Zune or Xbox Music users had grown to love AND expect to become even more beautifully refined in forthcoming versions.

Beyond annoying for me, having to place songs individually in a playlist on the phone or doing the same through File Manager when plugged into a PC is ridiculous.
I wouldn't mind using the File Manager/Explorer (whatever it's called) through a PC if the phone recognized/displayed more attributes beyond artist, title, album and genre. If I could sort, through columns, by rating, release date, play count, etc. it would be fine - I don't need Zune, Xbox Music or WMP... I just need something that works.

Couldn't agree more. The migration from WP7 and Zune (which was a stellar experience that I loved) to WP8 and XBM has been awful. If you're not running a Windows 8 PC, you're just left twisting in the wind.

Exactly, as I've always said MS can't get the simple things right and the experience is inconsistent. Playlists are obviously an issue and music I download to my phone STILL does not sync to my other devices.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that Microsoft can't get the "little things right".
Case in point, everyone seems to have liked the Zune software.
I just think they have other priorities they trying to push like the cloud and Xbox Music service.

Ahh Good!!  Now all they need to do is all my media sync together over wifi and give me the power to stream it to my computer/xbox/phone

Maybe it's always said this, but I reinstalled Music in 8.1 and while it was installing I hovered over the tile and it said ZuneMusic. Not that it means anything but thought it was interesting.

But as far as the update goes, Not bad.

What is the music player in the smartphone from the main photo? It looks totally different to WP8's player.

Can I FINALLY play music from an SD card while using my Surface with this new update?
Really, the current Xbox Music is so ridiculously broken. Xbox Music Cloud is a mess to manage, no SD card use, "Play To" Xbox doesn't work as well as WMP (it doesn't stream the file directly)... not to mention the app crashes. They were in such a hurry to dump the Zune brand that they dropped everything that made it work and work incredibly well.

Until i can easily add all the music from a nas drive and scrobble music to last.fm i won't be that impressed

Still not as good as Zune. Why can't they just get this right?? It's like they want to give people an excuse to continue to hate Win 8.1

That's probably cause most of the people "hating" don't know how to use the "cloud." It's a hierachy though. Your best bet is to start with Win8 PC. You create playlists there, download music there, and everything "MAGICALLY" appears on your phone. I don't understand why people have so much trouble understanding this concept and I'm a grandfathered Zune guy. It's so easy...a caveman can do it.

Microsoft want the seamless "3 screens and cloud" experience yet they released a completely useless Windows Phone 8 sync app and a Xbox Music app that looks and functions like its still in beta. Its currently a mess. I never thought I'd say this (I'm a selfconfessed MS fanboy), but I'm toying with buying a cheap iTouch and going with iTunes for syncing. Zune was bearable, but I never anticipated us going backwards...

They are also pushing the cloud, which may be why syncing (particularly for non-Xbox Music songs) is apparently way down on their list.

Thanks a bunch MS. :( My 1gb of data per month and decision to fork out for a 32gb device seems to be completely useless.

Not to mention what I'd have to pay Skydrive for enough space to hold my 10,000 song collection - just to not be able to access it when out of 4G range or when I'm near my data limit (which I would no doubt be near often and quickly if I streamed all my music from the cloud).

The Xbox Music cloud collection doesn't take up any SkyDrive space and you can download songs to your phone from your cloud collection whilst you are connected to data, preferrably wifi. You don't need to be constantly streaming your music.

Yeah, but very few of my songs were purchased via Xbox Music/Zune. I'm talking about my collection of owned songs.

It doesn't matter if they're purchased from there or not. If XBOX MUSIC can match it, it will be available in the cloud. About 70 percent of my collection is matched.

That item status (cloud, local, etc) should NOT be before the title. If anyhting it should be off the to the right or overlayed in a corner of the album image.
Why would anyone want to know the status of an item first before the title?

Sadly, without the free streaming this app is basically useless on my W8. Gotta speed up the negotiations around the world!

Wow! I see Halo: Spartan Assault OST there !! I love it too. "Simple Mystery" is my favorite song.
Tom Salta's Galactic Reign OSTs are nice too.

If you are using Windows 8.1 RTM it will fail as the rtm version is higher than the update that you are trying to update. The best you can do is uninstall it and then install the one from the store.

There gonna need to add a lot more than this to get me to switch from JRiver Media Player. Anyone else waiting on FLAC support?

People who actually use this app say playlist syncing is completely broken, so why bother? At least iTunes syncs playlists correctly.

I have windows 8.1 installed and I am telling you, new xbox music is the best music app I have ever used anywhere. I mean it. It has few ads if you haven't paid but those are not annoying at all. It also has a really good libraries, I was pleasantly surprised when explored a little bit through its library database of songs. Its good.
I wish Microsoft have release windows 8.1 instead of 8 at first place. so they could silence at least half of criticism.