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Microsoft details some upcoming changes to the new Xbox Music app

Earlier today at Build 2013 we briefly saw the new Windows app for Xbox Music. Now over on the official Xbox blog, Xbox Wire, we get slightly more info on the upcoming update to the Zune’s spiritual successor. Does it close the feature gap between Zune and Xbox Music? Let’s find out.

 At first glance the new Xbox Music app looks better. A little cleaner with denser information. You’ll notice a navigation column to the left of the app. Here are some other features to look forward to with the new Xbox Music app for Windows 8.

  • Built-in search
  • Improved collection management
  • Streaming radio stations
  • Exploring the Music Store
  • Lists of Playlists

The ability to search and find your music quickly is front and center. The new app will feature an in-app search bar for you. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this approach versus more education on how to use the Search charm, but it’s hard to argue the importance of a dedicated search cue for the less tech inclined users.

Collection management has been improved. While nothing substation has been gleamed from the post and from Microsoft today, it’s not hard to imagine them making usability a little more powerful for you folks.

Smart DJ has evolved into the ability to create streaming radio stations. It looks and sounds like it’s just the next step of Smart DJ.

The Xbox Music Store has moved to the “explore” section on the left hand navigation column. This is where you’ll head to get the latest tunes from Daft Punk and Massive Attack.

Playlists you create will be available to all your devices with Xbox Music. One cool feature we saw today during the keynote was the ability to “share” a webpage with the Xbox Music app and the app will automatically pull the metadata from that webpage to create a playlist.

Most of the stuff shown off today on the Xbox Wire is only about 50% of the new features that the team is adding to Xbox Music. They’re sharing more in the coming weeks and we’ll be sure to bring it to you. Hopefully we learn about some of these changes and whether or not it impacts the experience on Windows Phone.

Want to try out the new Xbox Music app? Make sure you go download the Windows 8.1 beta to get access to the app. Otherwise wait for it to hit later this year.

Source: Xbox Wire (opens in new tab)

  • Its good to be part of the ecosystem instead of iTunes or google whatever.
  • Amen
  • Amen Amen!
  • I concur.
  • It makes much more sense to be part of this ecosystem if I have windows phone, surface and windows 8 desktop.
  • These changes were sorely needed...I honestly can't stand the current Xbox Music app for Windows 8...
  • Agreed.  Ditto for Wp8 as well.  Still do not understand why they couldn't have just re-worked the Zune system graphically for XBOX Music.
  • The Windows Phone 8 app needs to be taken back to the shed and shot. It's incredibly confusing and makes absolutely no sense.
  • Have the same question since the first time I tested Xbox Music. The metro version of Zune would be fine.
  • I feel like it's BS we didn't get all of these updates in the Preview though. This is most of the reason I downloaded it on my Surface, but we're still stuck with the original interface in order to actually play songs.
  • I got the new interface on my Surface Pro...
  • Look at the second/middle screenshot. That's a totally different interface for listening and interacting with music. Right now we only have the new sidebar and searching stuff. When you tap on an album/artist you still get the awful scrolling interface and poor controls on the bottom that you can't scrub through.
  • I have all of it in the preview.
  • Really? Mine is updated but its not quite like in the screenshots above.
  • The app needed UI improvements as it was a dog, but the jury's out on whether this is better. The main problem with XBM is not fixed with a UI update however. Thousands of people are angry and have an awful experience with music syncing, and this addresses nothing. MS is NOT listening to us on this. Check out what happened to the guy who created the 'Master List Of Issues':
  • +11111111111111111111111111111111
  • Cool, now update the phone app please >.
  • Love to see the Windows Phone Xbox Music app completely revamped too.
  • Hopefully people stop complaining about how Zune is better, because this should be the Zune replacement. They should also add the Windows Phone desktop app functionality to this.
  • Still no sync over WiFi :/
  • Love my wireless charger, but it feels pointless without the Wifi Sync.
  • Zune is better.
  • I agree @Ordeith!!!
  • Honestly Zune was better, much better. This is a step in the right direction and much needed update. I still need to use Zune to collect on my grandfathered 10 monthly music pass downloads and I'm hopeful they build that into the new app as well.
  • I can use my music pass downloads on XBM for WP8, which is where I get my music anyways...
  • Why would they stop complaining? They haven't fixed the core problems. Silly post!
  • Thank you MS for realizing the music app needed some attention.  NOW GIVE IT TO ME!
  • Where do you want it? Are you in California?
  • I can't wait for the new Xbox Music on XONE. :)
    I hate that i can't organize a folder on my PC then drag it to the music folder and it is grouped the way i want it on xbox music. 
    I could make a playlist, but i have songs not on the cloud or available through xboxmusic , it would be blank. 
    THis is a problem with all the platforms. 
  • Yes it sucks and its mindbogling how they keep ignoring this.
  • The reason is very simple: at MS, every single person, who wants to copy any .mp3 from the PC harddrive to the mobile phone is considered to be a software pirate. Similarly, all .mp3 files on the local PC harddrives are considred to be stolen media files. So all vendors -including MS of course- do everything that is possible with todays technology to make the use of .mp3 files coming outside of their sh*tty DRM-enabled music stores to be as painful as possible to sync to your phone. I hope this explanation helped to open your eyes.
  • Sweet but still a little pricey have it bundled with Xbox live
  • I would like to be able to drag music to my phone via this app instead of needing a sync app. For that matter, similar functionality in photos and video, etc. Granted I have access to everything via cloud sync, but this should be quicker. Also I'd like to be able to use my song credits in this app rather than on my phone or in the Zune app. I realize this is a legacy feature but it shouldn't be that hard to do.
  • What about the WP8 companion app? Still not on par with Zune for WP7.x :(
  • Honestly all I want is to use Smart DJ like with Zune for FREE and to only use music from my collection. HATE that I have to pay and I can't use Smart DJ without paying.
  • So this is just a an app for win8 and it doesn't connect to wp8 via USB??? Bad idea. These phones are great but are still better with a PC companion. WP has the worst playlist creator In history...grrr.
  • But you can now 'point it to a web-page and it will build one from that'! *Sigh*
  • It better... Making a playlist is a pain in the arse. And adding to now playing don't work sometimes but I found switching the shuffle on and off fixes it.
  • No real facts. Let's hope we get most of the functionality of the great and wonderful Zune PC software and the syncing.
  • This looks much easier to use. I still use Zune desktop to organize. I hope they matched the power of that app.
  • I'd like to be able to sync my music like on Zune. That's all, I'll be happy if I can. Or at least the ability to manually move music from my phone and to my PC via the file browser with out DRM issues.
  • This /\
  • Is it me or are all these features actually not new at all? DJ...stations in the store...i have been using all of that already.
  • Substation should be substanial.
  • Haha or substantial.
  • I want to see this in WP8. :)
  • So when is Zune coming back?
  • Would be nice if it was available on Windows 7.
  • Be happy with your Zune
  • But Zune doesn't work with my WP8.
  • I spent hours on end making all of my albums and mix tapes have the appropriate album art, song titles, & features so it could show the artist picture & info for most of my music. Got a Nokia Lumia today and I am pissed. Can't even move songs from Zune onto the phone
  • When you open XBox Music, it should read your entire Music Library (assuming you are using the Music LIbrary Folder like you are supposed to do).
    After it does this, all your Zune music will be listed and available in the XBox Music App.  You can also turn on the 'settings' to download all the Music automatically.  (This creates a second copy of the Music on the computer in the new XBox Music Pass folders.)
    Then use the cloud features, turn on 'download' my music I sync to the cloud automatically on your PC and on your WP8, and you will always have all your content available.  If you want to make sure the WP8 content is pulled from the computer insetad of streamed off 3G/4G, just Sync the XBox Music to the phone.
    You could also just create a playlist of ALL your music in Zune, and import it to the Sync App or the XBox Music App, and it will pull the Music automatically, even if you don't have your Music stored in the Music LIbrary folder properly.
    (I hate the XBox Music App, as it is cumbersome and lacks features, but seamlessly providing your music 'everyone' including the 'cloud' is one thing it does right and better than Zune.  Your playlists on WP8, Win8, XBox and the upcoming Web Interface will all be coordinated as well as your selection of music no matter which device, computer, phone, etc you are using.)
  • Thanks for this. You gave me some more onsite in these settings. I just wish there was an easier way to sync certain cloud song to my phone so I'm not burning through 4G data.
  • Also to easily get album artwork download mpatool from the store. It will assign artwork to the albums and artist.
  • THANX! <3
  • No FLAC? No care.
  • How about instead of complaining about FLAC support, and just use WMA Lossless. It isn't like you would be 'losing' quality in the conversion, and it is an actual 'standard' format unlike FLAC and AppleLossless. You can also do 5.1/7.1, Dolby and other codecs that simply are not an option out of the box on other OSes. (See VC1 Audio Standards) Microsoft could be worse and use the Apple iTunes model that 'resamples' and 'converts' everything freaking thing audio/video degrading the quality, and also using the OS X internal audio rendering that is really 'dirty' in resampling, let alone resampling and 'conversion' and is why professional musicians in the 'know' avoid OS X like the plague or use software that avoids the OS level sound/media rendering technologies.
  • sure thing.  i'll get right on that and convert a few terabytes to another lossless format.
    hell, i don't need xbox music to even play the flac back.  just cloud sync it so i can stream the lossy version from my car.
    i suppose i could convert everything to mp3, let it sync, then delete it... but why so much trouble?
  • Yes just convert entire Library to another LossLess format.  FLAC is a VERY close to Standard for most music lovers.
  • Daniel, can you select multiple tracks for purchase?
    Is there true cloud support for all my music even if I didnt buy it from MS or its not available from Xbox music?
  • This looks so good.. Zune is still my fav music manager. I really hope the new Xbox music has all the features Zune offered. This is off the topic painful thing I'd complain about .. The windows phone app for win8. Lets say I want to sync some music I've over 7000 songs in my library there is no search function while syncing music in WP app so I've to swtch to desktop mode do a search --> find artist/album/song hot down path.. Go over WP app find it there again then sync..
  • didnt realize until I was just messing around with Xbox Music, but you can add any songs on the Xbox Music Store to "my music" and play them on demand from your computer/RT device. xbox music pass is needed to access your selected songs on WP though. still, cool. its basically the same availability as spotify.
  • Hopefully you can rate music again, and make playlist of songs that you've liked...
  • Will this also fix the inability to purchase and rent videos and sync them to our devices?
  • All I want is to have at the bottom of the wp8 music app is a bar that you can sort by artist, album, song and playlist... That way I don't have to keep hitting the back button to get another song from another artist while driving 80 on the interstate....
  • So what's happening with the bastardized Xbox Video? It keeps bring forgotten in this mess. I'm tired of not being able to organize my TV shows and Movies. Everything being thrown into the "other" abyss of hell. Where is the great ability to organize podcasts still? The apps available for that still do not automatically sync, automatically mark as watched, or automatically delete watched as the Zune did (many claim to, but none actually work). Than as others have said...why the f' do j need a THIRD program to sync? This was all suppose to get easier with Windows 8. Not require me to use 25 different apps to do what one use to be able to do.
  • Why, app like whatsap, line, wechat & youtube official & more not update since a long time... ?
  • Not to rant, but I'm going to add to my posting above.
    The problem is, is the leadership. Whoever is heading the Xbox media needs to sit the department down and tell them the following:
    • All media that can be synced to Windows Phones needs to run under one Xbox Media Program. Not a music app, video app, and a sync app.
    • Music and video needs to be able to be edited and organized under the app. And to the extent you could on the Zune app -- not the half ass version they are showing now.
    • All syncing of Music, videos, and podcasts will be done through this same app.
    • The cloud will be able to lync almost anyones' music in the costumers library to the proper songs. Apps created in someone's family room (like Music Info) can do it flawlessly, then our billion $ company can do better than only finding info for 300 of 2000 songs. UNACCEPTABLE.
    • Anyones' music purchased through the old Zune program and/or pass WILL work and sync fine with the new app and Windows Phones.
    The first question he should have after this, is cam you have this done by the next update. If someone says "no". Tell them it has been an honor working with them and help them pack their sh*t. Then hire someone who can get it done. This has become a corporate nightmare with how crap is done over there. The whole problem starts at the top. Who ever is above the guys making the decision to spend so much money on iOS and Android, needs to step in and tell them to get their priorities fixed with Windows Phone and Microsoft products first. If their responce starts with "But"; same thing as above, "nice working with you".
    I'm sick of this half ass crap and most of you seem to be also. I wish people like Daniel could get an interview the head of some of these departments at flat out ask "what the hell is your guys problem?".
  • THIS^^^^^^ x 1,000  Could not of said it better!
  • WPCentral, where are you, on this?
  • I vote this as post of the year!! There is nothing here but minor UI changes. The system is flawed, if your music doesn't match then it won't sync to the cloud. Syncing to WP8 is a DRM / duplicates nightmare and continues to be so. Unless you pay for a music pass, you can't download your existing music to WP8 from the cloud (if it's even matched at all), you can only stream (which is undesirable). Why should I pay money to be able to sync the music I used to be able to do with Zune!? Incredible!? That leaves you with the dodgy sync tool, which is an afterthought app. WPC, please pick this up and hit them in the face with it (metaphorically)!
  • Many of us have been calling for WPC to champion this for a while, but so far, no luck:
  • +1337
  • Zune must have been amazing for you guys in the US. Here in Germany I'm absolutely happy with Xbox Music with Music Pass. Zune was awful. Like Media Player, with a weird interface on desktop. Sure, downloading songs on the phone from the collection is a bit weird, but compared to synching?? I look forward to the improvements, but not having to use Zune anymore was the biggest step forward for me. I actually bought a Lumia 820 for that purpose. So please, enlighten me on what is the big deal.
  • If you really want to know why:
  • Does this work if my location is set to India. We don't get lots of love from MS when it comes new feature. Have to rely on Nokia for any music, and even they have turned back on us in Windows 8.
  • The problem is that bilion people outside US wants to buy Music Pass, but Microsoft refuse to sell.
    They want to sell only to Americans, and Americans just hate Microsoft and buys from Apple.
  • In that case they should prioritise other things over smartphones and the latest pc os. If they 'cant feed their families' and 'dont have a fork up their arse' they could get a nice old feature phone and an old laptop running vista and torrent their music like the good old days. If they want wp8/w8 and streamed music they have to accept $10 per month isn't bad
  • Still no Freemium accounts or subscription price drop? No, thank you. 
  • this looks way better than the older version
  • I have a question about "Music In The Cloud".
    I just updated my Acer Iconia to 8.1 and was surprised when some of my MP3s started to show up in the music app.
    I had forgotten abput the Music In The Clod setting.
    Anyway.. why do I only see about 50% of my MP3s (or "Music Library" if you will)?
  • Also... is there a way to delete these files "from the could".
    I hate not knowing where they come from.
  • Because as I pointed out above....the app sucks donkey balls at matching your music with the Xbox Library.
  • I thought so.
    And I cant undo this "connection" ? Right?
  • 10 bucks a month is nothing for a catalog of 30 million songs and counting u spend more on that buying 1 cd and torrents are ok, more hastle then they are worth sometime