Town Hall: The Cost of Xbox Music
I have been looking for an article on Xbox Music. Not a fan boy review or “Windows 8 is terrible” review. I really want a view of Xbox Music from a music fans point of view. I hope this will offer to other music fans in what I haven’t been able to find on the net. I am an ecosystem type of guy. I know it’s not the way to be, with all the choices out there, but I like to be all in to an ecosystem to experience what Apple, Microsoft, Google have to offer. Seriously I have gone through more phones and devices in this last year then you can imagine. I am not a guy who gets this stuff free or even to try. I have to buy it, love it or hate it, and then throw it on eBay. It’s a terrible obsession; one that I am okay with, my wife, not so much.
I am a family man. I have a wife and two kids that I love to hang out with. So, when I get a hour or so a day to bounce around on the web, read tweets, etc.; I always have music playing. Always. In my teenage years and up until my late twenties I played guitar in various bands and garages. So my love of music is very important to me. In this digital age music quality, album art and the like contribute to my music experience. It may seem weird but that’s what I like, it’s more than just music alone when I am at the PC. Like anyone else early in the MP3 game I used all sorts of players. WinAmp was great. Then came iTunes. It was okay. Got a big old 30 GB iPod and life was good. ITunes was good enough.
Then Zune came along. I have always been a Microsoft fan and when the Zune came out, I was hooked. I could care less what all the bloggers and finance people thought about Zune. I didn’t care. This was it. The Zune client was beautiful. Apple sit down. Microsoft just bested you in the music application interface department. Badly. My brown Zune was my happiness at work. When the Zune HD came out I was in heaven. Once I got the 64 GB with the dock all was good. All that Zune goodness, flying text and pictures on the HD was just good to stare at. That’s it, I am set for life.
I even went through the task of making sure I had the correct meta-data and album art. Actually, I did once for ITunes and again for Zune. I even re-ripped my entire collection of 1000+ CDs to make sure I had a better and consistent bit rate for all my music. Yes, I am terribly anal about my music. This is why you can see my dilemma about Xbox Music – more on that later.
Then the Zune death reports started coming. I knew it was coming, I just was hoping Microsoft would keep it around for niche deal. But alas that was not meant to be. I figured hey with an Xbox music reboot and more money to throw at it, since Xbox is a fantastic brand, maybe this will be great. Not maybe, it will be great. Paul Thurrot was glowing about getting rid of apple devices and talked about how he had no worries about being in with Microsoft for entertainment. I was excited. All the people that I follow on twitter were ready; thurrot, tromboneforehire, harlemS, sayonical, and all my WP7 folks. We were ready for Xbox music to push music and video to the next level.
Then Xbox Music was released. Updates, upgrades all around. There were people blogging about it and trying it out. As we got further in the game, it was clear. Xbox Music was terrible. I mean “wow” terrible. For me the interface sucked, but even then I felt the service had all this music via my pass and I will figure out a way to make this work. When I throw it into shuffle mode it worked. Well to a point. See that was the first of many problems. Meta data and album artwork was touch and go. It worked sometimes not others. Oh and if you let Xbox Music take care of your tagging, well it broke it. If you want Music on your phone – goodness that is another conversation for another time.
I understand the Xbox Music app for touch. I really do. If I owned a Surface I might even more. But on my Windows 8 PC, it is a tough pill to swallow. And truthfully, I am not sure a Desktop/Zune type client is the answer either, because then you have 2 pieces of software, one for touch (Xbox Music) and one for desktop (Xbox/Zune client). I like to have one uniform piece of software for my music. I am not a programmer and I am not sure how to pull it off and satisfy everyone. I just figure Microsoft has a lot of smart people – I would hope they can figure it out.
At one time I was so disappointed with Xbox Music– I figured I was going to dump Microsoft completely. Get a Mac book pro and a 160 classic iPod with iPhone and move entirely to the platform. Then use Spotify for listening to new music on my PC or Mac in this case.
So I am asking you, enConnected Nation, have you thought about jumping ship to iTunes full time or are you just sticking with the Zune client? Do you think Microsoft will fix this? . I love Windows 8, the Surface is great (I don’t own one but may someday) and I get the direction Microsoft is going. But Xbox Music is so, so terrible it may blow it for the whole platform for me.