Windows upgrade includes Xbox Music add-ons

By | Published on Thursday 27 June 2013

Xbox Music

After weeks of anticipation and speculation – right? – Microsoft announced its move into Pandora-style interactive radio yesterday. Did you notice?

To be fair, while Microsoft’s music announcements never enjoy any of the hype rival’s Apple manage to muster, yesterday’s announcement was really just an add-on to the IT giant’s existing streaming service Xbox Music, which launched last October, rather than a first bold move into the streamed music space, unlike Apple’s headline grabbing announcement of iTunes Radio earlier this month.

But with the focus of late a little more on ‘interactive radio’ than fully on-demand streaming services – partly because of iTunes Radio, partly because of the Pandora debate in the US – the new features being added to Xbox Music are timely.

As with its competitors in this space, Xbox Radio users pick a song or artist, and then get a personalised playlist based around that choice. Unlike many competitors, there doesn’t seem to be the option to directly inform the service about likes and dislikes (“never play this again”), though there is an unlimited track-skip option, and perhaps the service will learn from that. The interactive radio set-up is available to all, not just Xbox Music subscribers, with an ad-funded freemium option.

Though perhaps more interesting in the Xbox Music updates that come with the latest Windows upgrade is a feature that will go live later this year, whereby the platform will create a playlist based on any one web page, selecting the names of any artists mentioned. So you could take an edition of the CMU Daily, press a button, and have a playlist featuring any mentioned artists. Which is one of those things that will either be awesome, or actually fun the first time, but ultimately not that useful. Remains to be seen which once it goes live.