Xbox Music still sucks, and that’s a shame


Let’s start with some numbers.

68.% 10 seconds. 625. 47%

In January 2013, PEW researchers discovered that 68% of smartphone users use their phones to take music. That was nearly two years ago and I suspect that number may have grown. 10 seconds is the amount of time it took me to start the stock music player from a fresh boot on my Lumia 625. 47% is the number of Windows phones currently running 8.1 at the moment.

This is simply unacceptable.

From the moment Windows Phone 8.1 was released, threads sprung up on several fan forums complaining about the music app. Cooler heads popped up and advised that as Microsoft was shipping a dev preview, while the OS may have been finished, some apps were yet to be updated to support Windows Phone 8.1.

Joe Belfiore himself popped up and said as much. This was fine, we all knew that Microsoft would ship a much better Music app if we gave them enough time. So we waited for the first update.


Numerous stability fixes, including many of the reported black screens

  • Full Cortana integration including playing Playlists by name

  • UI Polish to improve animations and transitions between UI views

  • Improved messaging for encountered errors, such as unplayable content in collections

  • Then the second update:

    Audio scrubbing is now supported! Slide the track progress indicator in the Now Playing screen to advance to the spot you like.

  • Smoother FFW and REW animations.

  • UI fixes to improve visibility of content.

  • Bug fixed where songs are incorrectly removed from playlists.

  • Fixes for unexpected app exits.


    Then the third:

    Swipe the album art on the Now Playing screen to change tracks.

  • UI layout changes to make more room for content.
  • Minor bug fixes
    • Then the fourth:
    • Our fourth update to the Windows Phone 8.1 Xbox Music app is almost ready. We have a few tweaks we want to get in this one, so expect it early next week. This next release will continue to deliver on feature requests you are providing through the User Voice forum. So please, keep the feedback coming.
    • It all went downhill from there. The updates then became inconsistent, and most of them full of bug fixes.

      In the meantime, the Lumia 630 and 930 had been released as well as several other Windows Phone 8.1 devices. All shipping with the same atrocious Music app. Microsoft had dropped the ball here several times over.

      First of all, they had a music player that worked fine. They could have kept that in use and then swapped it out for the new Xbox Music app in Windows 10. Let’s face it, he music app is never going to be as good as we want ti to be befoe ships, and that’s a shame.

      Secondly, the music app that Joe Belfiore deceptively referred to as associated with the dev preview had been released in 2013 December . This was four months before Windows Phone 8.1’s release and almost a year ago.

      You all have helped Xbox Music mature from “devpreview” to (almost) 1.0 quality– here’s our team’s perspective.

      — joebelfiore (@joebelfiore) August 1, 2014

      The Xbox Music uservoice service is filled with requests that date from the release of Windows Phone 8 an have yet to be added to the product and remain perpetually under review.

      The mantra remains as always, wait for it. It’ll be here soon.

      Wait for Mango. Wait for Apollo. Wait for 8.1. Wait for GDR1.

      Windows Phone users have endured a lot of waiting.

      Simply selling devices is not merely enough, if something as core to the mobile phone experience as music is botched by Microsoft, then those 10 million sales could turn to 10 million customers who will simply have the perception of Windows Phone being bad at music. They will tel their friends. And their friends will tell their friends.

      I’m not writing this because I’m angry, I’m past angry. I’m apathetic. I don’t care anymore. I’m wondering why the Xbox Music team haven’t been fired. Sometimes I wonder why Joe Belfiore still has a job. Now, I’m waiting for VLC to be released and see if it lives up to its hype. Otherwise I’ll simply try my best to get on with it.

      I like Windows Phone, I like the UI and the way the OS works.

      I also llike listening to music.

      Please don’t make me choose, Microsoft.

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