Hands-On With The Windows 8.1 Xbox Music App: New UI, Better Syncing & Free Radio Streaming

Pandora and Spotify have reigned over the online music streaming scene for a long, but it seems that the big boys have finally turned their attention to the niche. Xbox Music, iTunes Radio, Google Play Music All Access and Twitter’s #Music all came out in quick succession. While none of these services are perfect for now, the teams behind them are constantly striving for improvement. With the big Windows 8.1 reveal, Microsoft did not forget to throw some attention the way of Xbox Music. As can be expected after the announcement of iTunes Radio, the changes in Xbox Music have a lot to do with the service’s free radio stations. You can now influence the radio’s song selection by picking music that is already in your personal collection, and initiating a radio station from there. That is not all, however; the app also features a revamped interface, and better syncing of collection and playlists.

Xbox Music Explore

Pretty much like the Store app, Xbox Music in Windows 8.1 no longer makes users scroll long distances horizontally; everything is more compact, and is divided into neat tabs. These sections can be accessed via the bar provided at the left of the screen. Songs saved locally on your computer appear in the ‘Collection’ section, and this area also has the ability to pull music from the cloud. In fact, thanks to the new, cleaner Collection offered by Xbox Music, users can now listen to the music they have on their other Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone and SkyDrive. Managing playlists using multiple devices has become a lot easier in Windows 8.1 as well, because the Xbox Music app syncs them with your account in real-time.


Xbox Music finally has a search button of its own, so you no longer have to rely solely on Windows 8’s universal search to find your favorite songs and artists. Anyone who is looking to casually browse through the app can go to the ‘Explore’ section to discover new artists and albums.

Xbox Music Radio

To start listening to a radio station, you can either pick a song from your personal collection, or go to the app’s Radio station and start playback directly from there. In the first scenario, the radio button can be found in the song’s dedicated menu. The resulting radio station wouldn’t just have songs from the artists you selected, but also similar tracks from other artists. To see music controls, right-click anywhere on the screen.

Xbox Music’s Radio service is free, though if you don’t have a premium account, a few ads occasionally show up during playback. Microsoft has claimed that the current version of the app has less than half of the features that will come out in the final release of Xbox Music with Windows 8.1 GA. If that turns out to be true, the service can really give any competitor a run for its money in the future.

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  • martman

    I can’t believe there’s another online radio in the market. To be honest, I’d much rather pick the songs I listen to, so this model doesn’t appeal to me as much. I’m using Torch Music, which allows me to even create playlists and it’s free!

  • Albza

    When I launch the music app, after some seconds of splash screen, it crash and takes me to the start screen.

    These are 2 of the 8 logs caused by this problem (screenshot taken in Event Viewer>

    -Faulting application name: wwahost.exe, version: 6.3.9431.0, time stamp: 0x51bce1d9
    Faulting module name: MicrosoftAdvertising.dll, version: 8.1.30301.1, time stamp: 0x51af4fda
    Exception code: 0x80000003
    Fault offset: 0x000000000000343c
    Faulting process id: 0x8cc
    Faulting application start time: 0x01ce7a2beea567e3
    Faulting application path: C:WINDOWSsystem32wwahost.exe
    Faulting module path: C:Program FilesWindowsAppsMicrosoft.ZuneMusic_2.0.130.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbweMicrosoftAdvertising.dll
    Report Id: 2e139381-e61f-11e2-bf93-2c27d7b40c92
    Faulting package full name: Microsoft.ZuneMusic_2.0.130.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
    Faulting package-relative application ID: Microsoft.ZuneMusic

    -Fault bucket -588857008, type 5
    Event Name: MoAppCrash
    Response: Not available
    Cab Id: 0
    Problem signature:
    P1: Microsoft.ZuneMusic_2.0.130.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
    P2: praid:Microsoft.ZuneMusic
    P3: 6.3.9431.0
    P4: 51bce1d9
    P5: MicrosoftAdvertising.dll
    P6: 8.1.30301.1
    P7: 51af4fda
    P8: 80000003
    P9: 000000000000343c
    P10:
    Attached files:
    C:UsersAlbertoAppDataLocalTempWERE0FE.tmp.WERInternalMetadata.xml
    These files may be available here:
    C:UsersAlbertoAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsWERReportArchiveAppCrash_Microsoft.ZuneMu_c4a7e753ffe093ebc290411764c23a3d9f2e43_1600a580_1486e4e6
    Analysis symbol:
    Rechecking for solution: 0
    Report Id: 2e139381-e61f-11e2-bf93-2c27d7b40c92
    Report Status: 0

    PLEASE HELP MEEEEE!!!!