Microsoft to unveil cross-platform Zune successor at E3 this year

Microsoft is set to unveil a sneaky preview of its upcoming service at this year's E3 that will replace Zune, according to unknown sources familiar with company plans. The new service, code named Woodstock, will add a few more nails to the Zune coffin and continue Microsoft's move from the Zune brand to either the Windows or Xbox umbrella. The sources also revealed that the service replacing Zune will support multiple platforms, including: Windows 8, Xbox, Android, and iOS. No word on what's planned for Windows Phone.

Much like the current music streaming service, Woodstock will feature browser playback. As well as not requiring any browser plugins, it is reported that the plan is to integrate the service into Facebook, enabling friends to build group playlists and share music. Similar matching functionality, much like iTunes Match, is also being tested that will allow users to identify existing music tracks on the service. It is expected to launch later in 2012. Unfortunately, no details surrounding pricing has arisen yet, but we'd expect it to compete with other services available on the market.

Source: The Verge; thanks everyone who tipped us!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Cue bitching about MS not supporting WP because this is going to be cross-platform in 3...2...1...
  • Please keep the desktop music player the same! It looks great
  • Totally, I love Zune as a player.
  • Yes, I love the Zune desktop but im sure Microsoft is gonna abandon it just like they alwalys do.  I won't be happy if I have to build my playlists all over again. 
  • YES!
    Everytime I have new people home for partys etc they ask what musicplayer I have on my PC (TV), they think it looks awesome, especially the albumarts flipping. When I say its Zune from Microsoft they get kinda surprised.
  • I get the same response when I have parites too but I play my music through my XBox to the TV so its hard for anyone not to see it.   See all this effort we fans go through to promote the best attributes of Zune and Microsoft just dumps on us!
  • Ain't the album art animation cool? Love it!
  • Well if this is true, im out. MS will never see another cent from me. just thinking about playing music on anything other than Zune sickens me.
  • Rash decisions ftw?  They aren't getting rid of what you use.  They are rebranding it.  The "Zune" brand has done nothing for Microsoft since it was created and they need a fresh new branding and marketing from here forward.
  • They killed it. It was never marketed and essentially nobody knows about Zune, so it is a fresh start. All my friends who have Zunes are keeping them till they die, and I still need my ZHD for all my music.
  • Uh, OK, you need to support your Zune HD, no problem... install the Zune client software in Desktop mode. What's the big deal? I'm already doing so on the W8 Consumer Preview. In any case, rebranding is a good thing precisely because of what you've JUST stated... nobody knows what Zune is, and now they have a chance to expand it beyond PC and Zune HD to make it more recognized and used. This is a good thing for all.
  • I guess i could live with it
  • Well said!! Very true about the Zune brand doing nothing for Microsoft. It simply hasn't and that is the ugly truth.
  • Function shouldn't change much and if anything should only get better. I looooove Zune but really who knows what it is? What's a Zune? I get that a lot. Rebranding is a GOOD thing.
  • lulz, first world problems
  • Wow this is an outrageously ignorant comment. Zune isn't going anywhere,its just being relaunched/branded.
  • Zune remains a better overall service than any of its competitors.  Whatever happens, please don't dumb it down
  • It kind of sounds like what Google wants Chrome to be. A one-stop shop for all your expected needs.
  • What does chrome and google have to do with Zune?
  • It's a great service but the desktop app is getting sluggish when working with my tons of media on my NAS.
  • I have the same issue, I thought it was a delay in getting the licenses for Zunepass content but it could be something more fundamental.
  • Same here. I recently purchased and installed a couple of internal drives just to get quicker access to my collection.
  • With Windows 8 and WP8 Microsoft probably feels that it needs to be flexible with the market in order to garner traction. Not everyone can pull off an Apple every year...not until Android is taken care of, through whatever means.
  • What if they released like an iPod touch but with WP7. (under the new name) I'm dreaming hu?
  • That is what I want a dedicated Media Device. The name I'm thinking about is "Metro". But I hope they keep the foundation of the Zune Interface & Build upon it and just rebrand it since they're set on changing the name (but I would prefer if they kept the Zune name).
  • On lesser quality devices like the earlier iPhone models and ANY past/present Android device, I used to agree about having a dedicated device... BUT... I use my Titan as my all-day media player, and I've never seen my battery drop more than 10% for high-use, all-day audio playback. I don't think it's as necessary to have a dedicated player anymore. The only hindrance I have right now is store on my Titan being 16GB instead of 32GB like my Zune HD was. Small compromise though on having the superior experience though.
  • I can see that but the Memory is a major issue for me on my Zune 120 & I have 59GB left, I'll say 5-10 tops is Video & the rest is Music. Plus it's more convenient for me like when someone call I hate when the music stops or when my phone is charging I use my Zune to do other stuff while moving around & I don't want if my phone breaks I can't listen to music while out or my media player breaks & I can't call or text people. I just prefer having them separate.
  • I have a Titan as well, but I think the audio quality is dismal compared to my Zune HD.  The Zunes (at least the second and third generation) had terrific sound.
    I'm not happy about dedicated music players disappearing.  Audio quality is usually an afterthought for cell phone manufacturers.  High quality digital-to-analog converters and audio amplifiers aren't cheap, and there isn't any incentive for phone manufacturers to put money into the (invisible) audio quality when they can add more megapixels to the camera specs instead.
  • The WP OS would need to have gained a considerable market share for MS to consider releasing a standalone playback device but even then I don't think MS will go for it. The Zune players were commercial failures, no matter how good they were.
  • Maybe I am not understanding what's going on here. But why not just encompass the entire ecosystem into this program? I mean, if you have W8 and Xbox on board, why not WP?
  • I think that is what they are doing..
    Zune is going away, when it does, what would WP use?  This..
  • Hmm price?? If I have to pay = FAIL.... Zune was free n itune n wmedia.. Wtf price unclear? 0$?
  • You won't have to pay anything to use the software...where did you get such a silly idea?
  • Wtf?!!!! Internet rumours at its best...
  • They are most likely referring to the equivalent of a zunepass.
  • This is exciting stuff. Microsoft, Apple, Sony and Google are all working on integration strategies to take over the living room and this is quite a salvo from Microsoft. They are in a strong position because of having all the necessary components. They not only have all the components but have the best of at least arguably the best of class in everything. That’s what the acquisition of Skype was all about as well. We’re going to see a lot more integration developments over the coming years by all the players. Despite missing some key components, Apple is also in a strong position because of their name. It’s going to be really interesting to watch.
  • Agreed I also think MS finally being free from anti-trust oversight will help here.  I allways got the feeling MS was afriad of too much interation for fear of monopoly accusations.  "No you can't bundle a good media application, or cloud software, that's anti-competive.  Apple...? no that's different."
  • I completely and totally agree with you in every regard. Microsoft dominates every market they're in over time. It's been proven time and time again. They come in, they take 2 product generations to "get it right" and then BAM! Third generation destroys everything in sight. Why? Simple-- they pay attention to what others are doing right, they take the idea, and they best it based on actual user feedback... not just some hodgepodge of crap like Google or some dictated mandate like Apple. People think I'm nuts, but I expect Apple to be just as irrelevant by the end of 8015 as they were in the 1990's... it just happens that they fall apart without El Jobso at the helm.
  • I'm almost glad.  While I love the zune software, MS needs to have 1 great media program (not app) instead of a hodgepodge of zune, media player, media center, etc.
    If they can take the best features of them all and make 1 truely great program I'm all for it, and don't care if they call is "Zune" "Media Player" "Xbox live music for windows" "yellow" "whatever.
    Also am I the only one who liked the gen1 Zune player?  (the black media player like one)
  • I love my 80 gig Zune...i think it is the 2nd iteration. The original was brown.
  • You are not alone.  I have a Zune 80 as well and its my daily music playback device.  Sorry but my 32g phone just can't hold all my music and YES do listen to either the radio or music all day long so its nice to be able to carry my entire music collection.
  • I liked the original 30gb Zune.
  • That would be great indeed, concentrate on ONE player. Im pretty sure I read somewhere that Media Center would be present in Win8 though. :/
  • Gen1 media player was the bomb
  • I too believe its a simple rebranding and one im looking forward annoying how digital copies are windows media but not Zune and im sure that's exactly what's going to be addressed, we need a universal media hub for all things windows and in the long run, its going to be better! Zune has always been amazing but just as everyone says here, no one knows what it is. Sister got a lumia 710 yesterday..first question..whats this Zune thing? Lol
  • I hope the call it Woodstock, that would be awesome!
  • Even if they screwed it up and called it Windows Live Woodstock, it would be a cool name, because everyone would just call it Woodstock the way they call it Hotmail instead of Windows Live Hotmail. Microsoft needs something that really screams out, "we're serious about this being AWESOME."
  • Love my 16gig 2nd Gen Zune. Use it everyday. When it dies I'll cry lol
  • OK, I'm fairly new to Zune and the whole WP platform as I've only been doing it for about a year(ish) now but from what I'm seeing and hearing, the Zune isn't going away.  When I listen to my podcasts on my phone, I don't tap on Zune.  I tap the tile that say "Music + Videos", not "Zune".  The Zune Players are dead tech.  They are no longer supported by Microsoft at the end of their life cycle, whatever that will be.
    It simply sounds like they're just going to be incorporating it into the OS in some manner so there will be some cohesiveness between W8 and WP8.  Maybe they'll get teh tick worked out so that when you subscribe to something on the computer and transfer it to your phone, the phone dosn't still give you the option to subscribe to it.  When I first started figuring out how to use Zune and my phone at the same time, I was getting double downloads since I was subscribed on my phone and subscribed on my computer.
    There's no reason, other than sloppy management, that a Windows Computer OS, doens't commuicate well with a Windows Phone OS.  That wasn't a problem before with Windows Mobile back through to the original CE.
  • Correct. It's purely a rebranding and expansion of what they have in order to incorporate new things like streaming music (to compete with Pandora and Spotify and iTunes), and also to make it consistent on the PC as with the mobile experience.
  • They'll need to provide something better than 192kbps if they hope to run with the big boys, MOG/Spotify.  Also need to support syncing on all platforms, not only streams.
  • 192kbps wma pro is superior to anything else out there
  • Bye beautiful Zune interface hello sexy windows 8 interface :D
  • I don't understand why people are against change? Is it that people are too lazy to learn something new that can make their lives easier? I say bring it! I cant wait to get it and start using it!!
  • I hope it doesn't look like The miscrosoft store or Xbox stuff because those are both disappointingly ugly. Zune software is the only thing that is actually taking the metro design and actually executing something that is decent. 
    The reason Zune never did anything for microsoft was because it was never marketed. It was late to the game but on top of that I had never seen an ad online or on tv about Zune. The brand itself was never the problem that problem has and will probably always be Microsoft's marketing. Just looking at the phones I barely see ads only recently have I actually seen windows phone ads. That already says a lot. Look at them showing off windows 7 and office. It's not impossible to market their brands. They just aren't doing it. On top non to bad marketing zune never expanded outside of US. So basically no one in US knows about it and no one any where else in the world can get it. 
    I just hope they create a better software if it looks anything like games or store then it's going to be pretty crappy looking. 
  • I wish MS would have gone closer to the Zune HD user interface on WP than they did. Zune HD menues feels more logical most of the time and the UI is much prettier and flashy.
    /random rant
  • I personally am glad to see Zune hitting the hay. Further more, I'm excited to know more about "Woodstock". I guess we're all different, but I don't really understand what all the complaining is about when people haven't even seen what's around the corner. For all we know, "Woodstock" could make Zune look totally inferior; have some faith -  it's not as if it's going to made my Google or Apple, peeps. ;-)
  • Why the hell are they releasing it for IOS and android? WTH?
  • why not all that does is increase awareness. My mom has an android phone if she can use zune on her phone than im all for it she loves her android i dont expect people to drop what they like to use simply for a music player.....Besides microsoft is a software company..Micro-SOFT<<<
  • Everyone is talking about how they should rebrand because it isn't known. The thing is that it's good that it's not doing well because it isn't known. If it was well known, and people hated it, then it's time to rebrand, but just spend some good money on advertisement. No need to rebrand. It's so annoying. 
  • As long as they allow my grandfathered Zune Pass with the 10 song credits a month to continue with the rebranded service, I have no complaints.
  • Hoping this also means mac support is coming. Would like to be able to use Zune pass since Spotify is so buggy on WP7.
  • If this new product syncs with WindowsPhone, will it feature full backup functionality with restore and transfer capabilities?
    Vote for this missing core functionality at the UserVoice suggestion box for WindowsPhone: