Last year Microsoft attempted to remove the Zune name from the mix and push the service over to a much more consumer accepted name, Xbox. Now the Zune Pass service is gone in name, but the Xbox Music service that has taken its place is still not taking off like Microsoft would like. To help turn this around Microsoft is going to push the service to platforms outside the Windows and Xbox ecosystem. Although we are guessing that Microsoft was always going to make this move we do feel that the process has been accelerated by the failure of Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Windows RT. If these platforms were better accepted by consumers Microsoft would probably held off on their plans to push out to iOS and Android. As it stands they need to try and bring more people into their cloud services and like Office 365 they simply have no choice to open up the platform.
The new service will allow existing Xbox Music (Zune Pass) users to download and run the app on their phones, but they will not be getting the full service that Windows users will get. They cannot download music directly to their phones, but will be allowed to stream music that is already stored in their collections. You do not get the smart DJ service found in the Zune App or anything other than an outlet to stream music you have already picked up. It makes the app a very pale imitation of the app for Windows (and even Windows Phone). After a quick look through the new App there is no compelling reason to pick it up if you are running another service like Pandora, Spotify, or indeed anything else.
The move to platforms outside Windows is a smart one for Microsoft, but as usual they are going about it all wrong. The App is missing several compelling features that would bring more people into the fold. This means that it is unlikely to entice someone to move from their existing service even if they already own an Xbox and Windows 8 PC. We hope that Microsoft will improve the app and add in the ability to purchase from the store, as well as Smart DJ and other features that made the Zune App (and later Xbox Music) service a good one.
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