Microsoft discusses audio playback support for Windows 8 apps

With the RTM version of Windows 8 now available for certain users, more and more Windows 8 specific apps have been showing up in the Windows Store. Many of those apps will be designed to play back audio files.

In a new post on the official Windows 8 app developer blog, Microsoft offers up some new information on the media playback features that can be used for Windows 8 apps. The blog post centers on discussing the new Playback Manager and Media Transport Controls (shown above).

Microsoft states:

The MTC UI (as it is affectionately known in the halls of the Media Platform team) allows a user to play/pause audio whether it is in the foreground or the background, even if the app has been suspended in the background. This UI is invoked when a user presses the volume buttons on a keyboard or slate. It shows up everywhere: the new immersive environment, desktop, and even in the lock screen. It is a great addition to Windows 8 and your apps can (and should) make use of it where appropriate.

The new Playback Manager is also Microsoft's attempt to give users a way to avoid having more than one audio file playing at once. The blog states:

For example, if a background capable app is playing music and is moved to the background, and then the user opens a new app in the foreground to play music, Playback Manager mutes the audio in the background app. This allows for a more fluid and intuitive user experience. Users hear what they want to hear, not what they don’t.

The post includes some sample code so that Windows 8 app creators can use the new audio features in their apps. It also talks about how streaming audio apps will work in the OS. Microsoft says that developers of such apps will have to do some extra programming in order to have them work even in the low powered "connected standby" mode of Windows 8.

Source: Windows 8 app developer blog | Image via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Rumor: Amazon to reveal next Kindle Fire on September 6th

Next Story

New Broken Sword Kickstarter campaign launched

27 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I find it annoying when listening to music and surfing and coming across a page with an audio ad. Sometimes you cannot mute or turn off the audio in the ad. It would be nice if we could set the music app to be what you want to hear and ignore all other audio sources. Worse. Imagine if surfing and Win8 stops your music that you are listening to and plays the ad as the main audio source.

Playback is fine for me and I get it. The app itself is just blah and very very generic feeling. I want more options and want to be able to go into settings and such. I want customization and control. The modern... eh screw it, METRO app doesn't give this. It's basically a huge screen to open music. I LOVE windows 8 mind you - but this music app is just ugh.

What if you want to listen two audio sources at same time? Lets say radio and sport event? (without using the desktop)

Too bad playing music in these metro apps is hit-n-miss. Been a week since I've been able to hear any background music in games or play music in the music apps. Sound effects work just fine, though.

xiphi said,
Too bad playing music in these metro apps is hit-n-miss. Been a week since I've been able to hear any background music in games or play music in the music apps. Sound effects work just fine, though.

iHeartRadio works well for me. Which one have you been using?

andrewbares said,

iHeartRadio works well for me. Which one have you been using?


iHeartRadio, Music, games. Anything that plays music in someway won't play the music. It's just odd to me that the sound effects only play. Thankfully, the desktop apps aren't effected.

The "modern ui" name in itself just sucks. Theres nothing modern about it. Some guru from microsoft must of been riding the new york subway drunk off his rear and thought he had a good idea with the metro interface.

smooth3006 said,
The "modern ui" name in itself just sucks. Theres nothing modern about it. Some guru from microsoft must of been riding the new york subway drunk off his rear and thought he had a good idea with the metro interface.

Alot of the inspiration comes for local signage & the Metro transit system in King County, where Microsoft is located.

A lot of the buildings actually have the 'arrow in circle' signage to point out directions to public entrances & such on campus. I used to have a picture showing this, but can't find it at the moment. I'll take another pic sometime soon.


That said (on topic) background audio support handled this way makes a lot of sense, but I'd like the option for a few more controls at some point.

Does this hold for videos playing in the background? In my experience this hasn't been the case. If you play a video whether music or not, it stops when you switch apps.

Do I have some setting enabled or something? Everytime I move to another app, even back to the Start page, and the Xbox Music app moves to the background, it gets obnoxiously quiet. Like, I have to crank the speakers to full volume just to hear it.

Also, Xbox Music DESPERATELY needs WP support. I'll be upset if they add support for WP8 and not 7.

Mulsivaas said,
Do I have some setting enabled or something? Everytime I move to another app, even back to the Start page, and the Xbox Music app moves to the background, it gets obnoxiously quiet. Like, I have to crank the speakers to full volume just to hear it.

Also, Xbox Music DESPERATELY needs WP support. I'll be upset if they add support for WP8 and not 7.

Xbox music is just Zune rebranded. I'll bet that with WP7.8, you'll actually see that happen

On the subject of playback does anyone know if the media player has an equaliser? I could not seem to fine any options for it. Maybe it was dumbed down like all the rest of metro, shame because if so even iOS has more features.

iOS apps also open faster. Pretty sad considering these are on a full computer with a quad core 3.0+ GHz processor... lol.

Test it yourself, try opening a third party app on iOS and Android (both of them are fast) and open a similar app on Win8 (make sure they're actually closed on both platforms first).

iHeartRadio opens in about 6 seconds on Win8 vs 1.5 seconds on Android for example.

WP7 has this exact problem, all apps launch really SLOW. I can't believe Microsoft dumbed everything down while also making it slower!

Come on, Spotify, hurry up and get a WinRT version of your app developed.

Or, even better, Microsoft, please release Xbox Music with Facebook Music integration. If that happens, I'll switch to that from Spotify in a heartbeat.

Calum said,
Come on, Spotify, hurry up and get a WinRT version of your app developed.

Or, even better, Microsoft, please release Xbox Music with Facebook Music integration. If that happens, I'll switch to that from Spotify in a heartbeat.

Or at least add the Zune Pass Smart DJ to Xbox Music....

Calum said,
Come on, Spotify, hurry up and get a WinRT version of your app developed.

If the development speed of their mobile apps is anything to go by I wouldn't count on a WinRT app any time soon.

remixedcat said,
How bouts making the music app better?

Who knows but I think the pre-installed apps will get updated more than we've seen with the desktop Live apps to this date. Xbox Music and Xbox Video are two key services so the apps have to be updated or people will just ignore them and the service together.

remixedcat said,
How bouts making the music app better?

Yep. The music and photos apps are the effing worse. I can t attach my local music and picture folders to these apps unless they are part of the library. What a bunch of morons.

gullygod said,

Yep. The music and photos apps are the effing worse. I can t attach my local music and picture folders to these apps unless they are part of the library. What a bunch of morons.

It actually makes more sense to use Libraries. WMP and Zune have been doing that for a long time now. They just need to allow you to add folders to the Library from within the App.

gullygod said,

Yep. The music and photos apps are the effing worse. I can t attach my local music and picture folders to these apps unless they are part of the library. What a bunch of morons.


you mad? Libraries make sorting your stuff 'super easy', throw in SkyDrive app folders and add them to the respective libraries and the whole 'not being able to point SkyDrive folders' issue goes away. Plus its just a great mechanism for managing your stuff. Don't fight it bro

remixedcat said,
How bouts making the music app better?

To be fair I haven't tried anything more recent than the release preview but that Music app in that version was a bit erratic, constantly shifting in what was in my library, one second I had 34 artists, a few seconds later there was 3 but still a many many more albums listed in the albums view than those 3 artists had made. It just kept constantly shifting...

remixedcat said,
How bouts making the music app better?

Too right. The music app is just... bad. I installed Zune to play all my music on RTM. They really gotta beef up that app or the music side of things is going to fall way behind. I know Zune wasn't hugely recognized but the Zune desktop app is stellar compared to iTunes, IMO. The Modern (metro??) app needs serious lovin'. That OR allow third parties to create apps that utilize your music pass? Hmmmmm...