Microsoft’s Xbox Music service is set to get a lot more competitive over the next few months. Buried deep within the avalanche of Windows 10 news out this week was a surprise feature addition for Xbox Music, the company’s streaming music service and competitor to iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Pretty soon, Xbox Music users will have the option to store their favorite music files on Microsoft’s servers and stream them directly to their devices.
Microsoft announced the new feature addition coming to Xbox Music and its OneDrive cloud storage on stage during its Windows 10 Media Briefing. Because it was sandwiched into other announcements, there’s very little details to go on at the moment.
“In about a month or two months, we’re going to add support to our system for you to put your music collection in OneDrive and have your collection stored in the cloud,” Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore told an audience gathered at the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters. Belfiore went on to clarify a bit more, saying that any changes users make to their music playlists or collection would sync between all their devices automatically.
While Belfiore spoke a video of how the process will work ran behind him. To get the feature working users will need the updated Xbox Music app for devices running Windows 10. Microsoft has plans to let users test a hugely updated version of Windows 10 beginning next week. Belfiore indicated users wouldn’t get their hands on this digital music storage system for another “one or two months.”
Make no mistake, Microsoft adding OneDrive streaming support to Xbox Music is a big deal. Today, Xbox Music uses a scanning system to detect what music is in a user’s collection and make copies of it available on other devices for streaming. Its why, Xbox Music is considered a direct competitor to iTunes Match.
Though handy, this doesn’t exactly fix all of the real world problems associated with digital music stream. For starters, music matching is only as good as the metadata that it scans. Sometimes Xbox Music is accurate in matching songs between devices. Sometimes it just isn’t. Second, Xbox Music and other popular music streaming services have a huge amount of music in their catalog, but there are things that they’re missing like rare mixtapes and exclusives. In both of those cases, Xbox Music simply ignores that. In those cases users still need to store the actual song file on their device.
Xbox Music is slowly turning into a combination of every streaming service available. It already offers subscription music streaming like Spotify. Cloud Collection mirrors iTunes Match. Its Radio function is a decent replacement for Pandora. The big question is how Microsoft will promote the new feature and what it already has. The company has delivered steady upgrades, but Xbox Music continues to lag behind others in actual reach.
This week’s presentation provided a fleeting glimpse at the upgrades coming to all Windows 10 users of the Xbox Music client too. Because of Belfiore’s cloud music demonstration we know that that Xbox Music on Windows 10 is due for a huge update in the next few months. The new version of the app lacks color, but appears to pick up a refreshed design in white and more streamlined navigation. Microsoft has said that what’s coming in Windows 10 is a universal app. That means this version of Xbox Music will work on phones, tablets, desktops and notebooks all powered by Windows 10.
Windows 10 will launch as a free update to anyone running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 later this year, according to Microsoft. There are Xbox Music apps available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, iPhone and Android.