A Comparison between iTunes, Zune, Windows Media Player, and X-Box Music/Video

It is my contention that it was a big mistake for Microsoft to scrap Zune and go with X-Box Music/Video.  Aside from the clunky interface, especially in comparison to Zune, it is surprisingly lacking in features.  Going on two years now, the software is STILL lacking pretty basic features.  So, to make my point, I provide you this chart:

Feature Zune iTunes Windows Media Player X-Box Music X-Box Video
Wireless Synch to device while charging 1 1 0 0 0
phone app purchase 1 1 0 0 0
plays audiobooks natively 0 1 0 0 0
discover podcasts 1 1 0 0 0
play podcasts 1 1 0 0 0
create/edit playlists 1 1 1 1 0
buy TV/movies 1 1 0 0 1
synch apps to phone 1 1 0 0 0
synch music/video to phone 1 1 1 0 0
synch podcasts to phone 1 1 0 0 0
purchase audiobooks 0 1 0 0 0
synch games to phone 1 1 0 0 0
shuffle 1, shuffle all button 1 1 1 0 0
Smart DJ/Genius Mix 1 1 0 0 0
Channels (curated playlists) 1 1 0 0 0
Picks – recommendations based on your plays/favorites 1 1 0 0 0
purchase ringtones 0 1 0 0 0
cloud synch of media 0 1 0 1 0
edit metadata of media (audio and/or video) 1 1 1 0 0
Textbook purchase/consumption 0 1 0 0 0
books, comics, magazines, newspaper purchase/consumption 0 1 0 0 0
edit album art 1 1 1 0 0
plays music 1 1 1 1 0
plays video files 1 1 1 0 1
auto playlists (based on criteria) 0 1 1 0 0
advanced metadata editing (sub-genre, language, BPM, etc) 0 0 1 0 0
rip CD to hard drive 1 1 1 0 0
displays correct metadata for song if it isn’t matched in a central database 1 1 1 0 0
Option to turn on/off ‘retrieve additional information from the internet’ and choose ‘only add missing’ or ‘overwrite all’ – ‘media information’ 1 0 1 0 0
visualizations with album art or artist art 1 1 0 0 0
social integration – see friends’ plays 1 0 0 0 0
social integration – post to facebook 0 0 0 1 1
social integration – post a playlist, song, artist, or album to your or friend’s wall/twitter 0 0 0 0 0
wireless streaming to mobile device 0 1 0 1 1
Streaming Radio 0 1 0 1 0
Ratings for Music (Stars, hearts, likes) 1 1 1 0 0
Playlists based on Ratings 1 1 1 0 0
Equalizer built-in to the app 1 1 0 0 0
DVD Playback 1 1 1 0 0
Blu-Ray playback 0 0 0 0 0
Browse Music by Genre 1 1 1 0 0
Achievements/Badges for listening/watching to content 1 0 0 0 0
Follow/subscribe to artists to get updated when a new album is out 0 0 0 0 0
Download Manager 1 1 0 0 0
Keyboard shortcuts to different sections of the app (using WinKey or Cmd) 0 1 0 0 0
Browse Music by Artist, Album, Song, Genre, and Playlists 1 1 1 0 0
Mini-Player 1 1 1 0 0
History of what you’ve browsed in the Store 0 1 0 0 0
Synchronized Lyrics 0 0 0 0 0
Add multiple items to a playlist at once 1 1 1 0 0
Total 33 41 19 6 4

For some reason, X-Box Music doesn’t know how to let you browse by genre.  It seems Microsoft forgot how to do this two years ago and still can’t figure this out.  Many people listen to audiobooks in the car, and for that, iTunes is the only game in town.  Zune couldn’t do it natively for some reason, and X-Box Music/Video inherits this limitation.

Interactive Live Tiles may solve the lack of mini-player, but hopefully XBM will do this in an attractive way, and not in a gray/green way.

As far as features go, you can see clearly that the winner is iTunes, then Zune, Windows Media Player, and bringing up the rear is X-Box Music/Video.  It’s been two years.  What is Microsoft doing with its time?  Who’s in charge?  And why are they seemingly wasting time re-writing the app again and again?  It it that difficult to write an app that doesn’t lose features from a past to a successive generation?

Looking at the chart above, the question then becomes: why should anyone use X-Box Music/Video over iTunes?  Why use four apps when one single app can do everything?

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2 Responses to A Comparison between iTunes, Zune, Windows Media Player, and X-Box Music/Video

  1. gerbir21 says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is sad commentary on the lack of progress with XBM. I’m an MS guy that wants to support the platform but it’s hard to do when superior products (namely iTunes) are out there.

  2. Pingback: X-Box Music with Background Images | Windows Live space

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