What’s in a name, you may ask yourself. Branding is likely one of the more difficult tasks out there, and companies like Microsoft seem to move around on branding, and what seems like a good naming decision at the time can be shown to be the wrong move with the benefit of hindsight. So it was for Microsoft’s Zune brand, which consisted of not only the Zune media players but also PC software and services. The Zune name was killed off and replaced with one of the stronger brands for Microsoft on the consumer side, with it being replaced with Xbox Music and Xbox Video a couple of years ago.

While the Xbox name is well known, it is also well known for a gaming system, and not necessarily media. The Xbox One pushed media as one of its strengths when it was launched, but perhaps it was pushed too hard at the expense of gaming, and over the last year or so Microsoft has been pushing the Xbox brand as a gaming brand. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that the Xbox Music and Xbox Video brands are being phased out. They do not fit in with the gaming brand, and they don’t necessarily reflect the actual services very well either.

Music, as it is named now, will be called Groove

Xbox Music is being renamed Groove, which at least fits in with the music theme. Like I said before – branding is hard. Perhaps it is also an attempt to at least have the service mentioned, since it certainly seems to be the forgotten music service. Apple recently released their Apple Music service to great fanfare, but in almost all comparisons it was compared to Spotify and Google Music, and not Xbox Music. Xbox Music, now Groove, formerly Zune, has been an all-in-one music service for some time. Way back in the Zune days it even offered a paid streaming tier which originally included ten MP3s to download per month to keep for the $14.99 per month price, which I believe was an attempt to bridge the gap between people who were used to owning music rather than paying to stream music. In 2011 the price was reduced to the now familiar $9.99 per month or $99 per year, but the ten bonus tracks to keep was taken away.

Now we have Groove, which is really just the same as Xbox Music, but at least no one should be confused into thinking they require and Xbox to use it (and yes, I’ve heard that exact complaint before) and other than the name change, it continues as the same service as Xbox Music. It offers à la carte music purchase, or full album purchase. If you want to stream music to the app, you can simply copy your mp3 files to the OneDrive music folder, and it will give you free streaming of your collection. It also offers the paid tier which grants access to the entire music library, which is somewhere around thirty million songs. Microsoft offers monthly purchase for $9.99, or annual payments of $99.99, so you can save a bit by purchasing an annual plan. They also offer some pretty steep discounts around Black Friday, with an annual pass being as low as $30 or so.

One thing that it used to offer back in the Zune days was playlists created by real people, but with the demise of Zune this has also gone away. They offer a “radio” feature, but it is just an algorithm that picks music based on a song or artist. Perhaps with Groove they will update the service to include more social features and make it easy to share playlists, but at the moment it does not offer much in the way of social. What it does offer though is availability. There is a client for Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Xbox, and even on the web. The iOS and Android apps are not as full featured, with those platforms lacking the free OneDrive support, but that support is coming soon.

Film & TV will be renamed to Movies & TV in Windows 10

Xbox Video is also being renamed to a very bland but descriptive Movies & TV. Once again, I believe there was some confusion that Xbox Video required an Xbox, which was never the case.

Xbox Video used to be the place to buy and rent movies as well, but that functionality is being migrated over to the Windows Store to make it the one place you go to do any of your purchases.

I’m an Xbox Music subscriber, and have been happy with the service. The rename to Groove makes sense but they will have to work hard to build up that brand if they want it to succeed. There certainly was some confusion with the names being under the Xbox umbrella, and the Xbox brand has been more focused on gaming over the last while so these change were needed. And after all, what’s in a name?

Source: Windows Blog

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  • Alexvrb - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    This is a good change. Best name it's had in ages... and a lot of people are funny about that.
  • Penti - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Groove Networks with it's Groove products was a collaboration/productivity company that they bought ten years ago :) That tech is integrated into Office now. At least BSkyB or anyone else won't go after them over the name.
  • Byte - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    MS needs to hire a better marketing team, or poach Apples. they just can't get it right. Groove brings back some memories. They took over Groove as it was the cradle of "cloud" storage. They destroyed it and made it incompatible with Outlook WHILE bundling it with Office when it worked fine before! How ridiculous is that? It has since been killed off and rebranded as sharepoint workspace and reworked when building "live mesh" technologies, rebranded with their "Live" campaign, and finally accumulating to Sky Drive (not a bad name), but then wussed out when threathed from the Sky channel. One drive sounds worst than X-bone. Its a wonder how anyone knows what the heck is going on when you explain Windows stuff, but everyone knows what iCloud is.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    Yeah, Google isn't great at branding but Microsoft makes anyone look better by comparison... The whole hotmail to live to outlook transition for a single service kinda boggles the mind and confuses even the people the do use those.

    Dunno what was really wrong with Zune, other than the hardware never selling well... The old $15 plan with 10 downloads plan is probably the only streaming service I've ever considered. I'm gonna have to look into those $30 Black Friday deals tho...
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    Hotmail, Live and Outlook all still exist. Lol.
    I still have the same Hotmaill Email from over 20 years ago...
  • Penti - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    You mean like the old MSN Music service they shuttered? Asking people who bought DRM:ed music to burn CD's and rip their MP3's when the service was to go offline, that was incompatible with the Zune when they overlapped. Replaced (kinda) by Zune music, renamed Xbox Music, renamed Groove Music. What was the point of the Zune service early on if you weren't buying a Zune? They tried to sell music-players from 2006-2009, why? The Zune music service didn't come to X360 until late 2010, why? The track record isn't great and they are pretty great at deprecating stuff in general, not offering a good way forward. I'm sure nobody understands Microsoft's gift card/digital currency system (with different names, points, xbox live currency, Xbox Gift cards, Windows Gift cards etc) either, while they fully understand the gift cards they can buy for iTunes or Spotify.

    But to be fair almost nobody did succeed in downloads or streaming. Those that did stuck with their branding though, and kept people in the service while they expanded it. I think it's a mistake to do as Google does with Google Play here though. You should keep stuff like a video streaming service separate from your store. Preferable cross platform, like they try to extend the office suite now. It might be all fine when you sign in with your Microsoft account all the purchases are tied to, but not when you don't. You should get people to buy into your services not into a platform few use all the features of. Sony used a external partner (Omnifone) for their music service, it's thankfully dead now. Devices should enable people, if they already have committed to a service when you start offering the same you better be much better if you want that market.
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    It is separate from their store. If you read the article they have Groove on almost everything.
  • Penti - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    Video won't be separate
  • wrkingclass_hero - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    I prefer poached pears.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    The first thing I do when I buy/build a new windows machine is delete the "Entertainment Apps" Apart from being nothing more than an advertising bill board with a very small amount of functionality built in, they provide nothing for me that Windows Media Player (after installing the right codecs) or VLC cannot do - often better.

    If I want to download movies I go to Amazon Prime, TV I go to BBC iplayer (or various other, probably wholly illegal, streaming services!), music I just go to internet radio.

    Maybe some people enjoy them, just not for me

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