Does Microsoft have a music app?

Microsoft is one of the largest technology companies in the world known for their software, devices and cloud services. Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft has expanded from its Windows operating systems and Office software to include phones, cloud computing, gaming and more. Today, Microsoft is a global organization spanning 36 countries with a wide range of products and services, including:

  • Windows – The leading operating system for PCs.
  • Office – Productivity software including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.
  • Xbox – Video game consoles and services.
  • Surface – Line of touchscreen Windows personal computers and interactive display devices.
  • Azure – Cloud computing service for building, testing, deploying and managing applications and services.
  • LinkedIn – Business and employment-oriented online service.

With over 180,000 employees, Microsoft earned $168 billion in revenue in 2021. They remain an influential force in both consumer and enterprise technology today.

Microsoft’s History in Music

Microsoft first entered the portable music player market in 2006 with the launch of the Zune music player. The Zune was designed to compete with Apple’s iPod, which had dominated the MP3 player market since its launch in 2001. The Zune featured a 30GB hard drive, FM radio, and wireless connectivity that allowed users to share songs with other Zune users.

Despite receiving positive reviews for its design and features like wireless sharing, the Zune struggled to gain traction against the popular iPod. By 2009, the Zune held just 2% of the U.S. music player market while Apple had 73%. In 2012, Microsoft officially discontinued the Zune hardware, shifting focus to its Zune music service and Xbox music offerings.

Groove Music

Groove Music was a streaming music service developed by Microsoft that was integrated into Windows 10. It allowed users to stream music they owned, purchased music through the Windows Store, and subscribe to the Groove Music Pass to stream millions of songs.1 Groove Music was first introduced in 2012 under the name Xbox Music, and later rebranded to Groove Music in 2015.

With Groove Music, users could access their personal music collection in OneDrive along with curated playlists and radio stations. The Groove Music Pass provided unlimited streaming similar to Spotify at $9.99 per month. Groove Music was tightly integrated into Windows 10, with a dedicated app pre-installed on Windows 10 devices.

In October 2017, Microsoft announced it was retiring Groove Music and partnering with Spotify instead. Groove Music Pass subscriptions ended December 31, 2017.2 The Groove Music app continued functioning as a media player for local files until support ended in 2019.

Xbox Music

Xbox Music was Microsoft’s original music streaming service, launched in October 2012 as an app for Xbox 360 and later expanded to other platforms like Windows 8 and Windows Phone. It provided access to millions of songs that users could stream on-demand for free with ads or through a paid Xbox Music Pass subscription. Xbox Music was positioned as a competitor to services like Spotify and Pandora.

Some key features of Xbox Music included:

  • Access to over 30 million songs
  • Free, ad-supported streaming radio stations
  • Paid subscription with no ads, unlimited skips, and offline listening
  • Integrated with Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, web player

While Xbox Music amassed a catalog of over 30 million songs and was pre-installed on Windows devices, it failed to gain significant market share against competitors. In 2015, Microsoft rebranded Xbox Music to Groove Music.


Discontinuation of Groove Music

In October 2017, Microsoft announced that it would be shutting down its Groove Music service by the end of the year (ZDNet). After December 31, 2017, Groove Music would no longer be available. This included discontinuation of the Groove Music iOS and Android apps as well (GameSpot).

The shutdown was primarily due to low usage and adoption of the Groove Music service. As reported by Microsoft, Windows 10 users were not streaming enough music with Groove Music to justify continued investment and support (ZDNet). The Groove Music Pass subscription service officially closed on December 31, 2017.

For customers still relying on Groove Music after its discontinuation, Microsoft provided tools and options to migrate libraries and playlists to other services like Spotify. However, Groove Music would no longer be supported or receive updates going forward (Microsoft Answers).

Partnership with Spotify

In 2020, Microsoft entered into a strategic partnership with Spotify, giving Microsoft users special access to the popular music streaming app. As part of the deal, Microsoft agreed to discontinue its own Groove Music service in favor of promoting Spotify.

One of the key benefits of the partnership for Microsoft users is the ability to integrate Spotify more seamlessly into Windows. Through the partnership, Spotify gained the ability to become a default music player option in Windows 10. This means Windows users can easily access Spotify music playback and control features directly through the Windows 10 operating system, without needing to open the Spotify app itself.

The Spotify integration in Windows 10 allows features like media playback control, volume mixing, notifications, and more. Users can even control and switch between Spotify playlists and songs through Cortana voice commands when Spotify is set as the default music player.

According to this article, the partnership also gave Microsoft users complimentary access to Spotify Premium for a limited time. This offered an extended free trial of Spotify’s premium features through Microsoft accounts.

Overall, the strategic agreement between Microsoft and Spotify allowed much tighter and convenient integration of Spotify’s music services into Windows 10 devices. It provided Microsoft users with streamlined access to Spotify’s catalog of over 70 million songs.

Other Microsoft Music Apps

Though Microsoft no longer has its own dedicated music streaming service, it does offer some other apps focused on music and media consumption. Two examples include:

Mixer – This app allows users to live stream their gameplay and interact with viewers in real time. It was originally called Beam and was acquired by Microsoft in 2016, later being rebranded as Mixer. The app has deep integration with Xbox and Windows 10, making it easy for gamers to stream their gameplay. Though not strictly a music app, Mixer does support streaming music during gaming sessions.

Movies & TV – Formerly known as Xbox Video and Zune Video, this app allows users to purchase and watch movies and TV shows on their Windows devices. It includes over 100,000 titles to buy or rent. Movies & TV ties into other Microsoft entertainment services, including Groove Music playlists and the Xbox Live network.

Third-Party Music Apps

In addition to Microsoft’s own music apps, the Windows Store offers a variety of third-party music apps. Many popular streaming services like TuneIn Radio, Spotify, and Pandora have official apps available on the Windows Store. These allow Windows users to access the streaming services’ full music libraries and features right on their desktop. The Windows Store also offers more niche third-party music apps like Phonograph Music Player for local music libraries.

While the selection is more limited than what’s available on mobile app stores, the Windows Store does provide key music apps to Windows users. The availability of third-party music apps helps offset the discontinuation of Microsoft’s own Groove Music service. Users still have access to popular streaming services, internet radio, and music players through the Windows Store.

Microsoft’s Future in Music

While Microsoft discontinued their Groove Music service in 2017, there is still potential for the company to offer a new music streaming service in the future. Microsoft currently has a partnership with Spotify that allows Spotify integration into Windows 10 and Xbox consoles [1]. However, with music streaming continuing to grow in popularity, Microsoft may look to launch a revamped music service at some point.

Some analysts speculate that Microsoft could leverage their Xbox gaming platform to offer a new interactive music experience [2]. The company has a long history in the music space, with previous services like Zune Music Pass and Xbox Music. While these past attempts failed to compete with market leaders like Spotify and Apple Music, Microsoft likely gained valuable insights that could inform future product development.

Ultimately, whether Microsoft decides to re-enter the competitive music streaming market remains to be seen. The company would need to differentiate itself and offer unique value to consumers. However, with Microsoft’s vast resources and innovative culture, they have the potential to disrupt the space if they choose to make music a priority once again.


In summary, Microsoft has had a long and winding history in the music app space. The company first entered the market in 2004 with Windows Media Player, which allowed users to play music files and stream internet radio. A few years later in 2007, Microsoft launched Zune – their answer to Apple’s iPod and iTunes – which included a music store, subscription services, and apps for playing and managing music.

Zune eventually got replaced by Xbox Music in 2012, which primarily focused on streaming music and was integrated with Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. Then in 2015, Microsoft rebranded Xbox Music to Groove Music, added additional features like music videos and curated playlists, and made it available across Windows, Xbox and mobile devices. However, Groove Music was shut down just a couple years later in 2017 due to strong competition from Spotify, Apple Music and others.

After discontinuing Groove, Microsoft entered a partnership with Spotify, making it the default music player for Windows. Today, while Microsoft no longer offers its own major music app or music store, users can access Spotify and various other third-party music apps on Windows devices and tablets. Given the dominance of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music, it seems unlikely Microsoft will attempt to relaunch its own proprietary music platform anytime soon. For now, the company seems content to partner with other more established players in the space.

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