Ever since Microsoft announced that the Xbox Music client for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices would be going the way of the United States budget surplus, there’s been the inevitable, “What does it look like”? Well, now we know.

In pictures obtained through the trial version of the Windows Store that’s included with Windows 8.1, The Verge has posted the screenshots that the store provides for most of the operating system’s apps.

It seems Microsoft won’t be brightening the branding up on the app that much, but it’s introduced huge updates to the design of the application. For starters, this Xbox Music client uses a consistent side bar on the right to anchor the entire experience instead of the panoramic design that dominated the last version. Music playback is separated between ‘Collection’, ‘Radio’ –formally SmartDJ, and an ‘Explore’ area that we’re betting is the new Store interface, though we fail to grasp why they wouldn’t simply just call that a ‘Store’.

Artist pages are no longer dominated by overly huge pictures of the artists and no longer require users to vertically scroll across large distances before finding an album they’d like to enjoy.

Second, the screenshots reveal that Microsoft is apparently working to move even further away from the branding it used in Zune. Starting with this release, these pictures indicate that Microsoft will drop the SmartDJ branding for its automated playlist creation too in favor of just calling the feature “Radio”.

SmartDJ was one of landmark features of the Zune Software’s 4.0 update, so landmark in fact, that users clamored for the ability to create and use them on their Zune HDs. Since then, the feature has been one of the few methods of music playback that have remained consistent on each version of Zune & Xbox Music. Today users are able to create SmartDJ playlists in Xbox Music on Windows 8, Xbox Music on the Xbox 360, the Zune Software client and Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 devices.

Microsoft appears to have changed the naming convention inside today’s Xbox Music application already.

Though it’ll be a shame the see the much less generic name go, there are simply too many music services who’ve named their streaming abilities ‘radio’ for Microsoft to not do this.


Microsoft will make the new Xbox Music client along with the rest of its revamped stable of Windows 8 applications available to users as part of the free Windows 8.1 update coming this fall. Microsoft will release a preview version of the software at this year’s BUILD event on June 26th.

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