Microsoft recently re-branded its Xbox Video app to Movies & TV, and now the company decided to ‘cut’ Xbox from the name of another app, Xbox Music. The re-branded app will be called Groove and it will be available in Windows Store later this week.
Dropping the Xbox from names of Microsoft’s multimedia apps might seem a little strange at first look, especially if we know that Microsoft is putting a lot of effort in promoting its ‘ Xbox’ brand, but on the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Why? Because Microsoft now has plans to to become a huge figure in selling music, movies and TV shows online, and compete with services like Apple’s iTunes.
Microsoft promises both Microsoft Groove and Movies & TV will feature “easy-to-use menus and navigation controls” and great touch gestures that will work regardless of whether you’re using a mouse or a touchpad to navigate through them. Although the company is talking about the release of its apps for Windows 10 PCs, which is natural, because the system will come out in three weeks, we should expect more Windows’ apps on more devices than just Windows laptops, tablets and PCs.
Groove makes managing your music very easy, as you’ll be able to change from different views, pin your favorite tracks into playlists, control the playback from the Taskbar, or even separately pin an album or playlist to the Start menu as a live tile. Another graphical detail that Microsoft loves these days is the dark theme (also seen in Edge browser), as the app will be available in light and dark themes, and you can also change the accent colors.
Just like other Microsoft’s in-house apps for Windows, Groove also features built-in OneDrive integration. So you’ll be able to save your songs to the cloud, and access them anytime from the Groove app. As Microsoft relies on this app to be the major music streaming app on the market in the future, it will be available on all major platforms like Android, Windows, iOS, Xbox and Web.
As you probably expected, the Xbox Music Pass is now renamed to the Groove Music Pass. But it only changed its name, as the pricing plan is still the same – $9.99 per month or $99 on a yearly basis. Microsoft Groove is going to be a huge ‘library’ of online music, with up to 40 million tracks in its offering.
The Movies & TV app didn’t receive any crucial changes, as you’ll still be able to play your own videos as well as paid movies and TV shows you purchase from the store. Actually, only bigger change is the addition of MKV support, but it was added while the app was still the Xbox Video.
Probably the most interesting feature of Movies & TV app is synced playback. For example, you can start to watch movie you purchased or rented from the store on your Xbox and you can continue where you left of on computer. Which can be very useful if you have to turn off the device you’re currently watching your content on. Just like Groove, Movies & TV is also connected with the Windows Store. So you’ll be able to buy or rent your favorite movies or TV shows with just a couple of clicks.
As Microsoft plans to deliver Windows 10 on more than a billion devices in a two year period, it’s going to be a great way of promoting new apps, even if they’re not the part of Xbox brand anymore.