Should Microsoft bring the Zune Pass to other mobile platforms?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| May 15, 2012


I had a lot of fun testing the differences between popular subscription music services Rdio and Spotify. While both options have their own pitfalls, there’s no doubt that each service will offer up just enough to attract plenty of customers. Rdio is popular, and so is Spotify. But, while there are other options out there, some that don’t have as many features and don’t cost the same every month, I find that Rdio and Spotify offer up the most for the monthly cost. But, I’m still left wanting more.

And I’m left wanting more for one simple reason: Zune. Not too long ago I made it perfectly clear that I don’t believe getting rid of the Zune Software from the Windows Phone ecosystem is a good idea, and it goes a bit deeper than what I outlined in tat previous article. Simply put, I think the Zune Software, and the monthly music subscription service that it offers, are fantastic.

And I miss it.

The way I left the Zune Software and Zune Pass wasn’t pretty, either. We separated on ugly, evil terms. I’m a firm believer that when you buy music, no matter how you buy music, that it should be yours. You should, considering that it’s a digital download, be able to download that purchased music as often as you want, no questions asked. Because you bought it. It’s yours.

Apparently Microsoft’s terms don’t necessarily see it that way. You see, I have been using Zune Pass for as long as it’s been around. I loved it right from the start because I was paying $14.99 per month for unlimited music, and a bonus. The bonus was 10 song credits that I could use to “purchase” music at the end of every month. 10 credits, plus unlimited music a month, for a pretty cheap price tag. I was hooked, and considering how much music I download every month, it was saving me a boat-load.

And then it all came crashing to a halt when, a few months ago, I was trying to download my previously “purchased” music and it said I couldn’t. When I tried to find out why, it said that I had reached my limit of downloads for this particular song, and that I could either access it through the Zune Pass (streaming), or purchase it again.

Purchase it again? Why? I already purchased it. I already did that. Which means I should already own it. Right?

When I reached out to customer service, they told me that there wasn’t anything that they could do. I had reached my limit, end of story. But hey, I could stream it or purchase it again, and that’s perfectly okay, right? No, no it isn’t.

That’s why Zune Pass and I separated, and while I hate the fact that even the songs I’ve purchased, whether it was through the free credits or through my own money (or Microsoft Points), I still miss the service. Because, as often as I use Rdio (over Spotify), Zune is just better in my opinion. When I listen to music I tend to just open my song list and hit shuffle. That will last me all day. But, the way that Rdio is set up, allowing for only 100 songs to be played during one play through, that just leads to a lot of repeated songs.

It’s so bad that I actually counted how many times I heard one particular song, one song out of over 6GB worth of music, played during five play throughs. I heard it six times. That’s just with shuffle on, and not repeat. It gets worse when you multiply that by five or six songs, at least. My shuffle is basically a repeat of something I’ve heard previously, despite the fact that there’s still songs in my playlist or library that I haven’t heard.

I never had a problem with this using Zune Pass. In fact, I’d venture to say that hitting shuffle with a Zune is a better experience than it is when listening to music on either an iPhone or an Android-powered device, which is pretty top-notch on its own. I didn’t even think this could be a problem. Then I realized that it’s just the way that Rdio is set up. The fact that it has to pick 100 songs before it can even start playing, means that you’re more than likely going to get repeated tracks. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it’s set up.

It’s better than picking 25 songs before playing, though, which is how it used to be with Rdio.

That’s why I want the Zune Pass for other platforms like iOS and Android. I want to have Zune Software available for Mac, and I want to be able to access Zune Pass from my iPhone whenever I want. It’d just be an app, but I could collect my music the same way, access the vast Zune library, and (hopefully) wouldn’t have to suffer through these shuffle issues.

This is only made worse by the fact that several of my colleagues are now using Windows Phone handsets, Zune Pass, and loving the unlimited music option. I’m jealous, because while I have a subscription music service, I feel like I’m paying to listen to the same music over and over again while I’m using it on my phone.

If you use Rdio, do you run into this problem? If you do, how do you get around it? And, more to the point, would you want Zune Pass available for iOS or another platform? Let me know what you think.