Today is the day: Microsoft is killing all of its music streaming offerings. The company announced the retirement of its Groove Music Pass service back in October, transitioning its subscribers to Spotify as part of a partnership.
Microsoft’s music streaming service started off as Zune Music Pass back in the days. The service later got retired, but Redmond introduced Xbox Music and Xbox Video a few years before that. Branding wise, that wasn’t the smartest of ideas as it created some confusion amongst regular consumers who weren’t quite sure if you required an Xbox to actually use these services. Combined with the poor branding, Xbox Music also offered users a lackluster, buggy experience across almost all platforms with its limited functionality.
Microsoft then went ahead and retired both Xbox Music and Xbox Video, rebranding the apps to Groove Music and Movies & TV. Groove Music actually brought a much better experience for Windows 10 and Xbox users, although apps for Android and iOS remained bland. Groove Music’s catalog wasn’t necessarily the best in town, either. Spotify, for example, has a huge catalog, and Apple Music also isn’t too far behind. Additionally, Apple and high fidelity music streaming service Tidal have notably been able to get some “exclusive” album launches from big artists like Beyonce, Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Drake. Even the regular, non-exclusive, content arrived for Groove Music Pass subscribers a few hours, sometimes days, or even weeks later when compared to Spotify or Apple Music.
Groove Music did offer a fantastic experience in Windows 10, though. The Groove Music app is arguably the best looking Windows 10 app from Microsoft, and the app excelled in terms of functionality, albeit a few months after its initial launch. The Groove Music team were working on some really cool features like music visualizations, and a social aspect for users as well — but that never got to see the light of the day.
Either way, most Groove Music Pass subscribers have already been moved to Spotify Premium — which, by the way, has a brilliant line of apps across all platforms, along with integration for most smart speakers and other third-party services. While some Groove Music users in Windows 10 aren’t a big fan of Spotify’s desktop app, the company is always working hard to improve its apps for users, so I’d just be a bit patient about this if you aren’t too happy with the current Spotify app. In fact, there a bunch of improvements planned for Spotify’s Microsoft Store app in the future as the company starts to explore the Universal Windows Platform.
If you are still sticking to Groove Music Pass, you will no longer be able to use the service from tomorrow. The streaming service will completely stop functioning, meaning you won’t be able to play music downloaded using Groove Music Pass, nor will you be able to stream new content. And lastly, Microsoft has already removed the ability to purchase music from the Microsoft Store, although you can still buy other content like movies, TV shows, and books. But of course, Microsoft isn’t guaranteeing to not kill Movies & TV in the foreseeable future — so if I were you, I would definitely avoid purchasing movies and TV shows from the Microsoft Store right now.
If you do decide to move to Spotify, all of your playlists and songs that are present in the Spotify catalog should get transferred automatically, but you will have to manually start a new subscription with Spotify as Microsoft can’t automatically “transfer” your existing Groove Music Pass subscription. Some of you may have a Groove Music Pass subscription that extends beyond 31st December, 2017, and you will get refunded by Microsoft sometime soon if that is the case.
Goodbye, Groove Music. It’s been fun. Sorta.