I received an email from Microsoft this morning alerting me that music I had purchased from the Zune service before 2012 would need to be downloaded or it will be lost forever. Here’s what happening … and how you can fix this.
As you may know, Microsoft launched Zune in 2006 to rival the iPod, and it was accompanied by the Zune Marketplace, for music purchases, and the Zune Music Pass subscription service. Over the year, Zune evolved first into Xbox Music and more recently into Groove, and in doing so, some features have changed from time to time as well.
Back in the heady early days of Zune, purchased music was still protected by DRM (digital rights management) technology, and Microsoft naturally used its in-house WMA (Windows Media Audio) file format instead of the industry-standard MP3 format because WMA offers better sound quality and smaller file sizes. But as with the rest of the music industry, Microsoft later did switch to MP3, which of course is unburdened by DRM restrictions.
What I had never contemplated, however, was that music purchased (and downloaded) from Zune before 2012 was still in a DRM-protected WMA format, and these files have continued working as we’ve moved from Zune to Xbox Music and then to Groove. But that is about to change.
“As an original Zune customer, we appreciate you being a part of our music community from the start,” the Microsoft email reads. “As you know, we’ve continuously worked to evolve our music app and service, and with that evolution, some of our original licensing arrangements are expiring.”
“Our records show that you purchased music on Zune prior to 2012, so we’re writing to let you know that as of March 12, 2017, we will no longer be issuing licenses to WMA-protected (DRM) tracks purchased prior to 2012,” the email continues. “If you have not already obtained licenses for outstanding purchased DRM tracks, you will be unable to play WMA DRM files locally after March 11, 2017.”
Fortunately, Microsoft is of course letting customers download their purchased music in license-free MP3 format. So you have until March 11, 2017 to download any purchased tracks from Groove so you can keep using them. (For example, you can upload them to OneDrive, where they can continue to be accessed by Groove.)
A Microsoft support page explains the various issues around Zune DRM-protected music. But you should be able to find all your purchased music using Groove for Windows 10. To do so, open Groove and navigate to the Albums, Artists, or Songs view. Then, select “Sort by” and choose “Date added,” and select “Filter” and choose “Purchased.” Now, you will see your purchased music: Just select what you want and download it to your PC.
Looks like I’ve got some downloading to do.