'Xbox Music' Zune replacement to be announced at E3?

According to a report by Tom Warren of The Verge, Microsoft is planning to announce a new music service at E3. The service, codenamed Woodstock, would replace the company's current music service, Zune.

Woodstock, according to Warren's report, would be a cross-platform service available through a web browser. Warren specifically mentions the service as being compatible with Windows 8, Android, iOS and the Xbox 360. Although not specifically mentioned, Woodstock would also presumably work on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. The Verge's article describes the service as "Spotify-like," not requiring any browser plugins (possibly through the use of HTML5) and would "integrate deeply with Facebook."

Microsoft has been rumored to be looking to replace the Zune brand for some time, as the Zune moniker never met the company's expectations. The company already began removing the Zune and Windows Live brands from Windows 8 earlier in the year. Just yesterday the company removed its Windows Phone app catalog from the Zune software, leaving Windows Phone users the opportunity to purchase apps either directly from their phones or from the Windows Phone Marketplace website.

E3, one of the world's largest annual gaming expos, is scheduled to begin June 5 in Los Angeles. Earlier this month, it was announced Microsoft would host its press conference at 10 a.m. on June 6, making it the first press conference currently scheduled.

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I have never used a zune pass but all I can say is that the zune player has caught the eye of most of my itunes and google music friends that have seen it while visiting here at home. I remember since the first time I saw the player I knew it was the right design direction. Huge letters, blown up icons too big to fit around the app corners and frameless window that even other like apple have copied today. I felt the app was so advanced not only in the design aspect but the way it worked didn't fit Windows as an ecosystem.

I have been using Windows 8 for a while and I feel the music player app is beautiful and def has taken some design pieces from the zune player but in no way it fulfills expectations for those using the app with a mouse. I have sent several feedback to MS about their x-player I can only hope they get worked out by release date, otherwise I will tend to use my "old" zune player on desktop mode instead. I feel that continuity is of tremendous importance for those browsing through tons of music files in our PCs and its frustrating to see yet another player fall through the cracks at Microsoft's hands. I also think Microsoft could at least keep this player around as a sign of respect for the team to actually develop the first Metro style app to land in Windows. The x-player, as I choose to call it, lacks tons and is not nor I think will be ready for the release, it just lacks too much at this stage in the game. Browsing alone is just horrible, try alphabetically searching an artist for ex. It nuts, unless im missing something here, its ridiculous to have to go through the whole alphabet just to get towards those name at the end of the list. I don't may be i haven't played with it much. I will do that now. RIP, you'll be missed.

I am really sad to see Windows Media Player die. There should have been a WMP 13 instead of the uber-dumbed down Videos/Music apps. Then again, all the Metro apps are dumbed down, not just these.

Zune is a perfect example of why people still don't take Microsoft seriously in the media department. I loved the Zune software and the Zune HD, but never actually bought one. Reason being, I knew in years time Microsoft would kill it. There reason for it not meeting expectations may be true in their eyes. However from the customer view, they hardly advertised it or promoted it. I get the feeling sometimes that Microsoft thinks their brand identity is as powerful as Apples in the sense that they can just throw a new toy out there and people will immediately buy into it. Its a shame since the Zune HD won many design awards. Moving this to the Xbox line is not a bad idea, but it just seems like a band aid solution since the Xbox brand has always been about well the gaming side. They could have done this from the beginning and used the Xbox brand to to a gaming brand and a media/music brand.
Im saving up for a Nokia Lumia 900, really hope this isn't a mistake and that Microsoft won't kill this in a year or so

oceanmotion said,
Hope they don't kill the Zune client. Love using it for playing music.

Same here. If they do kill it, I might still use Zune 4.8 (unless the new client is fairly similar to the current one, in which case I'd probably tweak it to add the Zune brand back in).

"The Zune brand never met the company expectations"

Gues what idiots, you never really invested and supported it.
- How many years did it take to finally open the Marketplace outside the USA?
- When did you start selling the Zune player outside the USA?
- Did you invest to keep the fantastic looking Zune client up-to-date?
- Why did you consistently remove features from the Zune client software?
- Why wait so long to start leveraging the Zune ecosystem using other Microsoft products?
- Why did you fail to properly advertise the distinctive Zune MusicPass?
- Need more?

I think we have enough implicit answers to the "failure to meet expectations".

And honnestly, considering what I saw with the Windows Music client and without a severe change in the Microsoft vision of a music ecosystem, chances are slim that the new product will be anything better.
- Where are the music discovery tools (Mixview style)?
- Where is the way to share musical discoveries to friends (don't force me into Facebook)?
- Where is the equivalent of a wish list?
- Where is the unified ecosystem to consume music?
- Do you think branding music with the game platform is a good idea? (clue: NO)

Please Microsoft, get your act together!

TheCyberKnight said,
"The Zune brand never met the company expectations"

Gues what idiots, you never really invested and supported it.
- How many years did it take to finally open the Marketplace outside the USA?
- When did you start selling the Zune player outside the USA?
- Did you invest to keep the fantastic looking Zune client up-to-date?
- Why did you consistently remove features from the Zune client software?
- Why wait so long to start leveraging the Zune ecosystem using other Microsoft products?
- Why did you fail to properly advertise the distinctive Zune MusicPass?
- Need more?

I think we have enough implicit answers to the "failure to meet expectations".

And honnestly, considering what I saw with the Windows Music client and without a severe change in the Microsoft vision of a music ecosystem, chances are slim that the new product will be anything better.
- Where are the music discovery tools (Mixview style)?
- Where is the way to share musical discoveries to friends (don't force me into Facebook)?
- Where is the equivalent of a wish list?
- Where is the unified ecosystem to consume music?
- Do you think branding music with the game platform is a good idea? (clue: NO)

Please Microsoft, get your act together!


I'm disappointed in the overall support Zune got, too. The Zune HD is easily my favorite music player I've ever owned, and I like the current software as well. Microsoft didn't really advertise the differences about the services and players, they just advertised them as music players (which doesn't make much sense given the iPod and iTunes are really entrenched).

I mean, they could have advertised the social features, touted the better sound quality of the Zune hardware, the Zune Pass (which was insanely ahead of its time), tried to get PC manufacturers to bundle the software like they do with Windows Live, etc.

TheCyberKnight said,

- When did you start selling the Zune player outside the USA?

Never ?

I've never seen a Zune HD in Canada.

LaP said,

Never ?

I've never seen a Zune HD in Canada.


They went on sale online briefly from zuneoriginals online only.
Then they killed Zune HD entirely.
There was about 4 months in between.

I'm in Canada and my wife has a Zune120. Even though she has a Windows Phone, she says I'll have to pry it from her cold dead hands.

TheCyberKnight said,
"The Zune brand never met the company expectations"

Gues what idiots, you never really invested and supported it.
- How many years did it take to finally open the Marketplace outside the USA?
- When did you start selling the Zune player outside the USA?
- Did you invest to keep the fantastic looking Zune client up-to-date?
- Why did you consistently remove features from the Zune client software?
- Why wait so long to start leveraging the Zune ecosystem using other Microsoft products?
- Why did you fail to properly advertise the distinctive Zune MusicPass?
- Need more?

I think we have enough implicit answers to the "failure to meet expectations".

And honnestly, considering what I saw with the Windows Music client and without a severe change in the Microsoft vision of a music ecosystem, chances are slim that the new product will be anything better.
- Where are the music discovery tools (Mixview style)?
- Where is the way to share musical discoveries to friends (don't force me into Facebook)?
- Where is the equivalent of a wish list?
- Where is the unified ecosystem to consume music?
- Do you think branding music with the game platform is a good idea? (clue: NO)

Please Microsoft, get your act together!


+1
Zune brand is beautiful and quite unique, and if they think it's because of name that doesn't represent what it stands for, just look at iPod.

They can call it whatever they want as long as the service remains unchanged.

Actually, anything but something stupid... yeah.

The lack of integration with Facebook Music is the only reason I left Zune for Spotify. I'm now quite happy with Spotify, but I miss a lot of what Zune offers, especially in terms of user experience; further, I haven't yet had chance to convert all of my tracks from WMA format to a Spotify-compatible format.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Microsoft announce regarding this, and to seeing what the deep Facebook integration involves.

Not only could this lead me to return to Microsoft's music service from Spotify, this could be the start of what leads me to continue using Windows and Windows Phone (I have been quite convinced recently that I will be switching to OS X and iOS).

Any chance on Windows Media Player getting an actual update? Windows 8 is becoming like Linux. 2 programs installed which basically do the same job.

sanke1 said,
Any chance on Windows Media Player getting an actual update? Windows 8 is becoming like Linux. 2 programs installed which basically do the same job.

lol. It's not 2001...WMP is part of an old era. I'm certain MS will do away with it. I welcome the "X-Player" app or whatever they will call it.

BajiRav said,
Microsoft = Please don't ruin the Xbox branding.

Ruin? How about diversify? It's a GOOD thing. An Xbox, like a PS3, is an all-purpose entertainment hub these days. Xbox is a winning brand and it makes perfect business sense to "paper clip" Zune's music/video catalogs to XBL to strengthen/increase its value for its users.

BajiRav said,
Microsoft = Please don't ruin the Xbox branding.

Remember MS wants to control your 3 screens. So it doesn't hurt to have Xbox Music, Movies & TV on all 3.

I wonder if they will get rid of the requirement to run Zune when developing apps on a device ? Always seemed odd that you need three programs running just to develop on the phone.

McKay said,
Is it just going to become "Music" on Windows 8 like the app in the CP?

Thats what I think they are doing. That app seems to work a lot like the Zune Desktop client.

As long as my Zune Pass is converted to an "Xbox Music Pass" they can call it anything they want.

Seems like they'd have to roll out some type of update to Xbox 360 and Windows Phones though to remove the branding, otherwise they'll confuse people even more.

rev23dev said,
As long as my Zune Pass is converted to an "Xbox Music Pass" they can call it anything they want.

Seems like they'd have to roll out some type of update to Xbox 360 and Windows Phones though to remove the branding, otherwise they'll confuse people even more.


I imagine they'd either have to honor your contract or refund you.

And, yeah, they'll certainly be removing all the Zune branding from both platforms if this indeed ends up being true (which seems likely, given the amount of rumors over the past year about Zune getting killed).

rev23dev said,
As long as my Zune Pass is converted to an "Xbox Music Pass" they can call it anything they want.

Seems like they'd have to roll out some type of update to Xbox 360 and Windows Phones though to remove the branding, otherwise they'll confuse people even more.

I'm a die-hard Zune fan and although I'd be upset to see the Zune desktop client go away I'd be ok with it IF the new services works as well as the desktop client and functions in the same way. Being that this this is web based it not necessarily a positive thing but I like that it make the service available to other platforms. Also, if my Zune Pass goes away I won't be a happy supporter anymore.

rev23dev said,
As long as my Zune Pass is converted to an "Xbox Music Pass" they can call it anything they want.

Agreed - its a fantastic service, I hope they honour my annual pass (I'm guessing they would).

Anthony Tosie said,

I imagine they'd either have to honor your contract or refund you.

I'm not worried about that. I'm sure they would. I'm worried that they'll kill the service, which would be unfortunate. Zune Pass rules.

rev23dev said,

I'm not worried about that. I'm sure they would. I'm worried that they'll kill the service, which would be unfortunate. Zune Pass rules.


From the sounds of it, the Zune Pass will get killed and be replaced by this. But the two services sound similar, so there may not be much of a difference at all to you besides what they end up calling it. It's hard to say what they'll announce.

Yep, the best thing about Zune is the Zune Pass, so as long as that continues and doesnt see any kind of downgrade with the rebrand, I couldn't care less they have with Xbox Live.