Microsoft Has Never Been A Serious Player In The Music Industry, Despite These Many Failed Tries – Forbes

An attendee holds a shopping bag in the exhibition hall during the Microsoft Inspire partner conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, July 10, 2017. During his keynote speech CEO Satya Nadella unveiled Microsoft 365 software that brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

You really have to respect a company that, despite having failed several times at becoming a major force to be reckoned with in a certain industry, continues to try to get in on the fun in a number of ways. Some firms would call it a loss and move on, but Microsoft has continuously attempted to claim some bit of dominance in the field with different products and services, only to see each and every one slowly decline in popularity (if it even managed to collect any consumers in the first place) and eventually disappear.

Perhaps the problem has been that while Microsoft has the resources to properly launch a new product or idea right, the company always seems to be following, instead of leading, which it has done so many times before. Many of the services and products it has launched were similar to what had already come to market, and they weren’t forward-thinking, massive or special enough to stand out in a major way or steal focus. The latest casualty of the industry is Groove Music, Microsoft’s only streaming option left, which won’t be around for much longer.

Here’s a quick look at some of Microsoft’s most notable attempts at earning a spot in the music industry, none of which managed to hold on for very long or make any serious impact.

MSN Music

Believe it or not, this was actually a real thing, though it has almost been lost to time. Over a decade ago, MSN competed with other websites like Yahoo for eyeballs, pushing news, videos and blogs, operating as a hub for everything happening in the world, especially in the entertainment fields. MSN Music, which published articles about musicians like many other media outlets, launched a download store that was clearly looking to take at least a small bit of market share away from iTunes, though it didn’t end up lasting long.

The MSN Music store was only in business from 2004 until 2006, though users could still access the tunes they had purchased until 2008.


Around the time that MSN Music was shuttered, the tech titan introduced its next musical endeavor, which was also meant to compete with Apple’s latest product that was taking over the world, the iPod. While the original products faced a few technical glitches, Zunes were generally regarded to be perfectly fine devices, but sadly that wasn’t enough for Microsoft to make more than an initial big splash. The Zune ended up essentially as a flop, and it was finally put to bed in 2015, though the company had made it clear years before that it was no longer a priority, and there hadn’t been a serious update for a long time by that point.

Zune also came with its own download store and streaming service, which required users to pay a monthly subscription fee for their Zune Music Pass. That sum, which allowed fans unlimited access to millions of songs and 10 free downloads every month, was first offered for $14.99 per month, though that was too high for most people. The price was later lowered to $9.99, though it was too late to make much of an impact in the streaming field, and that iteration didn’t come with the freebies.


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