Microsoft Shuttering Groove Music Pass, Shuffling Users to Spotify

The software giant is exiting the music streaming business and forges a partnership with Spotify to help users keep listening to their favorite tracks.


Microsoft on Dec. 31 is pulling the plug on Groove Music Pass, the software maker's entry into a music streaming market dominated by the likes of Pandora and Spotify. To help users cope with the impending shutdown, the company inked a deal with a rival service.

The exit follows a similar move made by Samsung last year. On Aug. 19, 2016, the South Korean electronics maker announced it was shutting down its Milk streaming service, powered by Slacker Radio, a month later.

Microsoft is expanding its "partnership with Spotify to bring the world's largest music streaming service to our Groove Music Pass customers," Jerry Johnson, general manager of Microsoft Groove, said in an Oct. 2 announcement. "Beginning this week, Groove Music Pass customers can easily move all their curated playlists and collections directly into Spotify." To sweeten the deal, some users may be entitled to a 60-day free trial of the paid, ad-free Spotify Premium service.

Members of the Windows Insider program get first crack at migrating their music collections and playlists to Spotify by downloading the latest version of the Groove app for Windows or Xbox One (the Spotify app arrived on the game console on Aug. 8). Windows Insider is an early-access program used by Microsoft to test upcoming versions of Windows and gather feedback before they are made generally available.

After subscribers launch the Groove app and log in, a pop-up window walks them through the mostly automatic process, including setting up a Spotify account, if necessary. A few clicks and a handful of minutes later, users will be able to access their old playlists on their new Spotify apps.

Microsoft plans to roll out the capability to all Groove Music Pass subscribers the week of Oct. 9. The company also pledged that Groove Music Pass users will be able to move their content until at least Jan. 31, 2018. According to a related FAQ, the company will issue prorated refunds to those who prepaid for their subscriptions starting at the service's Dec. 31 shutdown date or wish to cancel before that date.

Microsoft also recommends that users download and back up their purchased tracks, since the download feature, like the streaming service, will also be discontinued on Dec. 31.

Although Microsoft's music streaming and buying service won't live to see 2018, its ghost will linger as a music player. "We will continue to invest in and update the Groove Music app on all Windows devices to support playback and management of owned music," said Johnson.

Microsoft and Spotify aren't the only ones making noise in the music streaming scene.

The new Apple Watch Series 3 smartwatch will soon support built-in music streaming. Users will be able to stream Apple Music's 40 million tracks without requiring that they keep their iPhones nearby.

The Cupertino, Calif., device maker also recently revealed that Apple Music now has over 30 million paid subscribers, boosting the company's music revenues. For comparison's sake, Spotify has over 60 million subscribers and a 30-million song library.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...