Microsoft takes on Spotify at E3 with Woodstock music service

microsoft takes on spotify at e3 with woodstock music service 2352498995

Poor Zune. What chance did Microsoft’s little media player and its attendant digital music and video store have in the face of the crushing monolith that is Apple and iTunes? In all the ways that the Xbox brand, the Xbox 360, and Xbox Live have succeeded over the past eleven years, Zune has failed. The company already stopped making actual Zune handhelds. Now it’s time, finally, for the Zune Marketplace itself to die. (Microsoft announced in February that it would discontinue the Zune and Windows Live brands once Windows 8 rolled out.) From those ashes rises Woodstock, Microsoft’s new digital music service.

The Verge reported on Wednesday that Microsoft will unveil its new digital music service for Xbox, Windows Phones, and Windows 8 PCs at the E3 expo in June. This service in the same Spotify-style competitor that rumors first hinted at back in February. While the service will make an appearance at E3, it will not be commercially available until later in the year when Windows 8 releases.

Woodstock will be integrated at a fundamental level with Facebook, letting linked friends share songs and playlists. It’s also said that Woodstock will offer a service akin to Apple’s iTunes Match that lets users “scan and match” their libraries of digital music, automatically identifying those songs in their Woodstock accounts.

Microsoft isn’t commenting on the rumors about Woodstock, but this information jives with Microsoft’s media strategy in recent years. The company has aggressively expanded its different entertainment options on the Xbox, branching off predominantly into television. This year alone, Microsoft started offering HBO Go, Major League Baseball Channel, and Comcast’s Xfinity on demand video service. The push into multimedia has been working as well. Xbox marketing and strategy head Yusuf Mehdi said in March that Xbox owners are spending an average of 150 hours per month watching television and just 84 hours per month playing games. The Xbox finally lived up to its destiny as a living room entertainment hub and not just a game machine.

Music is a very different beast than television though, and Microsoft faces a steep uphill battle in convincing users to embrace its new service. Old Zune Pass subscribers will naturally make the leap, but how will Microsoft lure away Spotify’s users? Since it will likely continue selling individual tracks as downloads too, does Microsoft believe it can somehow break Apple’s 70% control of the downloadable music market? Is the Xbox brand that powerful?

Just over a month to go until E3. Plenty of time for Microsoft to answer those questions.


Once the dust settles, 'Fallout 76' will be a nuclear wasteland worth exploring

The launch of Fallout 76 has been nothing short of apocalyptic, but that doesn’t mean the game is dead on arrival. Bethesda has a path forward, paved by The Elder Scrolls Online, another game that suffered a rocky start.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.

Joker from ‘Persona 5’ will take your heart in ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’

Joker, the leader of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts from Persona 5, will arrive to Super Smash Bros. as its first DLC character. The announcement was a surprising one, because Persona 5 is a PlayStation 4 exclusive.

‘Magic: The Gathering’ enters esports relevance with $10 million prize pool

Wizards of the Coast is pushing Magic: The Gathering into esports relevance with a prize pool of $10 million across the tabletop version and Magic: The Gathering Arena. Will the game be able to compete with Hearthstone and Overwatch?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for December 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles, as well as bundles that feature games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Get some bang for your buck with these Nintendo Switch console deals at Walmart

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the past, but you can still get some bang for your buck on game consoles before the holiday season is done. Walmart has various Nintendo Switch bundles on sale right now.
Product Review

‘Just Cause 4’ is mindless fun that leaves little room for much else

Just Cause 4 revels in explosions and over-the-top action, but its world feels empty and hollow. With few new ideas and a stale open world, it's a fun but shallow piece of escapism.

‘CS:GO’ goes free-to-play and players are not happy about it

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), has gone free-to-play this week in a controversial move. Players are angry that the problem of cheating will get much worse now that anyone can make a disposable account to play.

The most common Xbox One X problems, and how to fix them

The Xbox One X is a brilliant console, but it's not without its issues, ranging from simple annoyances to severe hardware problems. Here are common Xbox One X problems and how to fix them.

How to delete and reinstall games on your Xbox One

Removing and reinstalling games on the Xbox One's hard drive isn't difficult, but it's a process that not everyone is familiar with. Thankfully, our guide will run you through each step so you'll know precisely what to do.

‘Street Fighter V’ players will get bonuses if they allow in-game ads

Capcom will show in-game advertisements on Street Fighter V starting December 11. Players may choose to deactivate the ads, but they will miss out on some bonuses and content if they do so.