Microsoft has been busy rebranding and realigning many of their services over the last sixteen months. One of those that has yet been redefined is Xbox Music (and Xbox Video, for that matter). People have often criticized the branding because the name 'Xbox' implies that you need an Xbox 360 or Xbox One console for the service. Although this is not the case, this exclusionary inference may be harming adoption of Microsoft's music offering.
Now, new evidence suggests that Microsoft may finally be dropping the 'Xbox' name from the service. Instead, the more direct 'Microsoft Music' may be the new moniker.
Typo or hints of change?
Signs of the name switch comes through the online Xbox Music web player. When a track is selected that is unavailable for online streaming (e.g. Trent Reznor's 'Intriguing Possibilities'), the popup message mentions 'You can purchase this song on the Microsoft Music Store.' This popup appears both in English and German, as confirmed by one of our readers who tipped us on the news.
Although the popup message could be just in error, it seems oddly precise. Moreover, it makes sense for the company who wants to position their music streaming network as platform-neutral and not tied to a gaming product. Under the Ballmer era at Microsoft, the company tried to position Xbox as a general entertainment category. However, that strategy appears to have shifted.
Interestingly, the site www.microsoftmusic.com is held by MarkMonitor, a company that "lets any large enterprise protect a vital component of its brand and its business". In effect, they act on behalf of companies to protect their brands and we would not be surprised if Microsoft is utilizing them (msft.net is noted in the listing). However, companies routinely buy and occupy domains that they may never utilize, either to protect their brands, prevent confusion or for a later marketing strategy.
So it remains to be seen if Microsoft will truly rebrand Xbox Music. In Windows 8.1, Windows Phone and Windows 10, the actual apps are referred to only as 'Music' and 'Video'. Likewise, the new unified Windows 10 Store mentions simply 'Music' and 'Movies & TV' with no reference to Xbox at all. In effect, a distancing from Xbox has been in the work for months already.
What do you think? Should Microsoft drop Xbox from their Music and Video services and instead just use their name? Sound off in comments!
Thanks, Niko, for the tip!
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.