Microsoft (Kind Of) Kills Cortana’s Music Recognition Feature

Posted on January 5, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Microsoft with 35 Comments

Microsoft finally pulled the plug off Groove Music Pass earlier this week. But the retirement of Groove Music Pass is taking away a key feature of Microsoft’s Cortana smart assistant: music recognition.

As Windows Central reported earlier, Cortana can no longer identify songs due to the retirement of Groove Music Pass. The smart assistant shows an error when trying to use the music recognition feature through the dedicated button for the feature. In true Microsoft fashion, though, you can still use Cortana’s music recognition capabilities. Yep, directly asking the smart assistant “what song is this” still lets you identify currently laying songs using Cortana as can be seen from the screenshot above.

Either way, when we reached out to Microsoft, the company confirmed it’s taking away Cortana’s music recognition capabilities. Microsoft, as per usual, will be relying on third-party partners to extend Cortana’s capabilities going forward. “With the discontinuation of Groove Music Pass, music recognition functionality via Cortana was also retired. Cortana is integrated with Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, and we are working with Pandora to make their service available. Cortana’s functionality will continue to grow with new skills and capabilities through our third-party partners,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.

Music recognition is arguably a basic feature you’d expect a smart assistant to have in 2018, but with Groove Music’s retirement, that’s no longer a thing in Cortana. Functionality wise, Cortana is falling behind Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa as both Amazon and Google continue to rapidly evolve their respective smart assistants for their smart speaker products. Microsoft, on the other hand, is expecting third-parties to extend Cortana’s capabilities through Skills, despite the fact that the lacklustre collection of Cortana’s Skills has less than 300 skills — most of which aren’t even useful. No, I did not forget to type an extra 0. 

Tagged with , ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (35)

35 responses to “Microsoft (Kind Of) Kills Cortana’s Music Recognition Feature”

  1. SteveM

    With Xbox in the living room of millions of homes all they needed to do was put in an integrated speaker and mic and boom you have more smart speakers than Google and Amazon, but no, Microsoft didn't think of that and now taking away key skills and expecting 3rd parties to fill the gap is a disaster. Another missed opportunity.

  2. IanYates82

    Paul's snark is rubbing off on you ?

    I'd like to use cortana more, but I'm slowly drifting to google stuff more and more for personal use.

    Maps, news, and now google play music.

    It's really annoying that play music won't ever show up on cortana. At least we've got YouTube on xbox, but I reckon if MS made xbox today, rather than before Google became dominant, we'd never get YouTube on xbox either.

    Can't we just all get along? Maybe the alexa / cortana integration could be the start of something? I suspect not though. Apple showed the way and walled Gardens it is, unless you're an upstart (eg apple music on Android)

  3. jwpear

    So sad. This is absolutely a core assistant feature! Why should one have to connect with a music service to get this feature? Who would even know they need to do it?

    Add yet another reason not to use Cortana. Microsoft works so very hard to ensure consumers find their services completely useless.

  4. MutualCore

    They also killed Cortana on Dynamics 365 today, ouch. I think Cortana is going to be phased out in the next 2 years completely. Either they are planning to unveil a 'next-gen' assistant that leapfrogs everything on the market or they are getting completely out of any semblance of consumer businesses.

    I honestly believe Nutella is out in fall 2019 with $200 million golden parachute. He never had any intention to build Microsoft to any kind of consumer presence again.

  5. Steve Martin

    Still working fine here:

    "Ok Google. What song is playing?"

    Mayhaps Microsoft just doesn't want the desktop or device market at all. It'll all be in the cloud, either Google's or Amazon's. Take your pick.

  6. Waethorn

    I've recently discovered that Spotify Connect for PS4 works great with the Android Spotify app. For one thing, you don't have to sign into the PS4 app. And they don't have the same ad limitations and skip-ability restrictions as either the Android or PS4 apps alone. It even mutes the game music (but not sound effects) so you can cue (or is it "queue" in that context?) up your own custom game soundtrack. Destiny 2 is awesome with some Thomas Bergersen in the background.

  7. ponsaelius

    As Cortana does less the ecosystem contracts. Maybe the word of the moment is "retrench". Maybe Alexa will be integrated into Windows and Cortana will just disappear documented as another consumer facing technology Microsoft abandoned.

  8. nbplopes

    I rarely used this feature on the iPhone and certainly never on a PC.

    Groove Music was doomed from the start. The reason is that MS has no culture in music or arts in general, so they just sought this as another business tech opportunity.

    The things is, as tech becomes part of human life’s the value is not mainly in tech anymore. It’s not just about how cool or novel a feature is. It’s how it becomes part of people life’s, part of the culture. For that matter it’s description and design cannot be just a tech spec, a tech how to, or clapping laptops.

    That is why both Spotify and Apple Music are ahead. That is why Amazon is building it’s presence as a digital retailer and Alexa will be little more than a POS for the products they sell.

  9. ejryder3

    Yeah... Cortana has already been flushed from my usage. Though I still have a working Kinect on my Xbox One X.... Cortana is so slow in responding I can get Alexa to reply before Cortana finishing thinking about whatever you said. It's kind of sad. MS gets to the top of the mountain, declares a grand success and it always turning out that they made it to the top of a molehill. I've finally learned my lesson after Zune.. Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, Band 1.. Band 2... Nope. I'll stick to Windows 10, Office and Xbox and just wait for everything else to be a success before joining in. I'm sick to death of good concepts gone bad and then killed off.

  10. Simard57

    "No, I did not forget to type an extra 0."

    perhaps but you did forget to type a 'p' ;)

    the smart assistant “what song is this” still lets you identify currently laying songs using Cortana

  11. Angusmatheson

    The thing I don’t understand is that Microsoft was ahead. Microsoft had a monthly fee streaming surface in Zune Music Pass (? Name) years before Spotify. I don’t understand why that flooped, but now Spotify is growing like crazy. Was it being tied to the Zune - a much less popular device. Was it the lack of cellular connectivity so you couldn’t stream on the go? Was it trying to compete with Napster in it heyday and asking for a monthly fee when music was free? Was it lack of a free tier to get people in the door? Why did Zune streaming fail - when they were there first. And why didn’t Zune then Groove grow when it was clear streaming was the future? Apple has managed to make a streaming surface and they came after - with essentially the same product, tied to devices, no free tier. Why Microsoft failed in tablets, the living room PC, and music streaming when they had such a head start I find fascinating.

  12. glenn8878

    What third party is supposed to pick up the slack? Microsoft is blowing it. Cortana is useless. Alexa’s primary purpose is playing music. Perhaps just install Alexa on Windows and everyone will be happy.

  13. leonzandman

    Tin foil hat: Maybe this is due to the fact that Cortana Music Recognition uses Shazam's services in the background, which was recently acquired by Apple?

  14. gregsedwards

    *fewer* than 300 skills


  15. JimP

    You can still use Shazam on Windows Mobile.

  16. Jules Wombat

    So for those of us who don't wish to subscribe to a Music service, what music recognition App do we use. i guess its Shazam. Will the Cortana give us a choice as to which app to connect up to, (e.g. Shazam ?)

    As Microsoft is giving up each Consumer facing service, it might as well ditch Cortana altogether and adopt Google Assitant throughout. Its simply sound business sense to drop Cortana now, rather than let it drip drip die off.

    • PincasX

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      With Apple buying Shazam I wouldn’t be surprised if it was sunsetted on other platforms. In fact I’d be surprised it wasn’t.maybe it will live on for Android as part of Apple Music.

  17. Pulagatha

    It's ridiculous they don't sell music on their platform. According to the CMO, it's not what they are good at and streaming has become a market, so they gave up. He compared it to the Amazon Fire Phone as if that analogy makes any sense. Good grief. This is one of the few decisions Microsoft has made where all I can say is they need to reverse it as soon as possible because each day it counts against their credibility as a consumer product. I would just love to be in the Microsoft board meeting just for a day. I feel like JK Simmons as J Jonah Jameson.

    "No, I don't think people will like fluorescent gradients in the File Explorer. No, you can't come out with another XBox in six months. You made the People app look that? Why? No, I don't want a third Settings app. Why are there drop shadows everywhere? Multiple sidebars in OneNote? No, I don't think that's a good thing. Are you guys going to maintain a principle of having the sidebar on the left or keep randomly switching between both sides? Ninja Cat is fine. No, you can't put Live tiles on the desktop and the Action Center and the Start Screen. No, the new icon scheme can't look like that? Because it's blinding to the eye, Joe. Don't talk bad about Apple. It sets a bad example. No, you can't put an advertisement in the operating system like that. The apps have to have borders. I don't don't care what Zac Bowden says. Yes, just put 'Create A Set' in the jumplist that way every app doesn't have a tab bar. You want to quit selling music? WHY? No, I think Tab History isn't the best idea. How about Tabs in a sidebar? Look, I like the Acrylic too, but you can't use it on the desktop background as well. It probably should be used more sparingly just appearing in the Start Menu, Taskbar, and Action Center. No, the accent color can't be both of these things. Which method of highlighting an app menu are you going to choose? Because there should only be one and there are about eight or nine. That's the icon you chose for Timeline? No, I don't want more Isometric icons. Why would you do that? Yes, I think you have a bad reputation with some businesses and you need to try and overcome that. Maybe the editing portion of the Photos app should be separate. Yes, AllSnap on Windows 7 it was amazing. Please, would you implement AllSnap. The Media Assets icons are awesome. The Alarm Clock app, I think, is the best designed app. No, don't make Skype look like SnapChat. SnapChat is awful. Where's that Clipboard app? Are you ever going to implement that pointless function of 'drag and drop' into the Universal apps? Yes, I think you'd need a hydraulic press to get through the sarcasm of my previous comment. Yes, animated Gif desktop backgrounds. How is this still not a thing? A hundred dollars for a keyboard? Well, that's why everyone loves Apple because they overprice their products. No, don't put more functions in the title bar. Yes, you need to quit putting hamburger buttons everywhere. Yes, there should be a standard window size. No, I don't think animations are the hip new trend of app design. I think twice as many people should be working on the auto-correct and text suggestions. And the Maps app. Dark theme is awesome. Keep tweaking that dark grey and set a specific color before you do."

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Pulagatha:

      The idea that just because MS does software it should sell all sorts of digital things its absurd. It the same has saying because I make something non software, say boots, I should start selling fruit.

      As for Amazon, the company was born as a reltailer of goods non digital. It has a reltailer culture. Start selling digital goods its inline considering the notion of digital and non digital goods gets blured.

    • Waethorn

      In reply to Pulagatha:


      My tl;dr version:

      Microsoft: doing bad stuff.

    • Winner

      In reply to Pulagatha:

      You mention the Clipboard, I've always meant to ask - why in the hell do we still see a "There is a large amount of information on the Clipboard. Do you want to be able to paste this information into another program later?" message?

      It's as if we are still in 1992. Memory is cheap, this is really an arcane old message and an example of stuff that could be cleaned up.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Pulagatha:

      Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! ?

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to Pulagatha:

      Music is definitely not necessary. It gives no advantages for Microsoft. It hurts the company. The Company is focusing on productivity and creativity, which is more important to the development and contribution to the world. The satanic music industry can be somewhere else. It's already causing people to become fanatics and causing celebrities to become depressed, drug overdosed and increasing in the suicides. I want nothing to do with this and get as far away from it as possible. Now, I'm glad that a company I'm a fan off has moved away from this evil industry.

  18. Angusmatheson

    Microsoft shouldn’t be retreating on Cortana, but should be making it better. The next way we are going to interact with computers is with natural language voice. The progression to direct programming on the hardware, to Command line, to Graphical User interface, to Touch. I think Apple totally blew their lead with Siri - releasing it early before it was accurate. In my experience with Siri, Alexa, Google asssitant, and Cortana they are all terrible. But I don’t understand Microsoft retreating on Cortana. With Bing and their strength in the cloud they have advantages here. This is the future - Apple got an early lead and stumbled giving many early users a bad experience - take advantage of this. And don’t just think of natural language integration for consumer - integration with  Dynamics 365 was brilliant, yet they just abandoned that too.