Town Square is a public forum where we lend our megaphone to members of the Xbox community. Opinions expressed here don’t necessarily reflect our on views, though we may have made edits for clarity, spelling and punctuation. These are the views of Mark Richey, a longtime Zune fan and Xbox Music user.
Xbox Music on Windows Phone should be a no brainer. Just as games on Windows Phone should have been a slam dunk.
Of course, we know it just hasn’t happened like that. From the beginning, Microsoft ripped the very guts out of Zune to leave a mere skeleton of what had been a fully developed and robust music service and player. On the game side, it gets harder and harder to deal with the crippling of Xbox gaming with the more social aspect nearly disappearing.
But nothing has been a bigger disappointment than the absolutely washed out Windows Phone Xbox Music experience. Finally, all of Windows Phone 8.1 is sliding out, and whether you are on the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview — as I am — or gaming the final version with all the firmware updates such as Cyan on Lumia; the Xbox Music app remains a travesty.
The twice-a-month updates seem to hold less and less promise with each passing week. Microsoft needs to step up soon and fix what should have been a cornerstone of their mobile platform. I think there are 5 things they need to do fast.
Only half the problem is with the phone platform. Xbox Music on Windows 8.x and on the web are sorely lacking. Albums regularly disappear, lose tracks, duplicate tracks and feature incorrect artwork. There is not even the rudimentary ability to fix these things from within the platform. Zune at least let you alter names, fix errant release dates, drag and drop misplaced tracks and add or update album art. Face it. Collections are messed up before they ever hit the Xbox Music app to begin with.
Matching the cloud collection to your limited service is a failure. Give it up. Why should my own albums, ripped on my PC or my original music be unavailable without downloading it to my phone? And when matched, often the tags are from amateur collections uploaded with misspellings, mislabeled tracks and missing tracks. If it isn’t in the Xbox music library for sale, it may as well not exist. Stop messing with my personal library.
Along that same line, we have heard for the better part of two years that a personal music locker is coming. With the addition of one terabyte of storage for Office 365 users, I am ready! Do it! Now! Why should I be forced to consider a smartphone phone with expanded, but still inadequate storage to house my collection? I have the space. I have the data plan. You have the bandwidth. Let’s do this!
I have seen many people crying about the lack of Live Tiles like in Windows Phone 7. I get it. It was gorgeous eye candy. But that becomes worthless when it takes over 60 seconds to load even the tunes on your device. Playlists, shuffling and Live Tiles transparencies are nothing if the darned thing won’t work. I still get huge “resuming” messages. The promised background syncing of music seems missing in action after nearly a half-dozen updates. Poor performance has reduced Music to being labeled the laughing-stock of music apps, and that’s saying something next to Rhapsody.
I do love the Radio feature, but more often than not, I download and play entire albums. Some simply are plainly unenjoyable without gapless playback. This should have quite simply have been ported directly from Zune, where it had barely seen 2 years as a feature. Let me hear my Abby Road, side two suite as it was intended to be heard.
There you are Microsoft. It’s not really a big list at all. Many of these features were there. They were just abandoned when you brought the experience to phones. Now Playing, recent plays, dragging to change tracks. You pat yourselves on the back for these “new features” but in reality you are only giving us back what you took from us several months ago. Step up. Do your job. Give Windows Phone what it deserves: The best damned music service available. Anything else is criminal.