On Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled a radio feature for Xbox Music and an interesting music feature that creates a playlist based on the contents of a web page. But a Microsoft event just doesn't capture attention like an Apple event. Microsoft, not regarded for its products' user experience, doesn't have Apple's "wow" factor.
Not surprisingly, the music products unveiled at Wednesday's Microsoft Build keynote didn't attract the attention of the Apple products debuted just two weeks earlier. Gauged by level of online buzz and movement in Pandora's share price, the new features to Xbox Music, the company's on-demand subscription service, didn't generate much excitement. Nor did the music playlist feature.
But don't overlook the company's music efforts. While Microsoft has struggled to find a successful digital music strategy, and although its small mobile market share is hurting its ability to have an impact in music, people should at least take note of Wednesday's goings on. The company's footprint is still huge: 92% of all Internet traffic comes from machines running Microsoft Windows, according to NetMarketShare.
Most of Wednesday's announcements centered around Xbox Live. Next week the service will launch a web version of Xbox Music at music.xbox.com. The service was initially available on Xbox consoles, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. iOS and Androi apps followed later.
The addition of a radio feature is good news. The Xbox Music update has a Pandora-like radio service that allows users to build personalized radio stations based on music in the service's catalog. A good radio feature is standard on on-demand services and Xbox Music could not have been without one. (The news didn't phase Pandora investors, however. Although the company's stock often falls when competitors launch products, Pandora shares rose 8% following the release of encouraging figures on auto partners and in-car listening.)
Microsoft's other music announcement of the day was an app -- to be released later this year -- that will create a playlist using music mentioned on a web page. So, for example, a person viewing a web page about a band or a music festival can click a button and the app will create a playlist based on the artists and songs mentioned on the page.