Music and Windows Phone

Back in the days of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s Zune application was used to copy or synchronise media (music, photos, videos and podcasts) between your PC’s media libraries and your Windows Phone. When I had a Nokia Lumia 800 (which used Windows Phone 7.8), it was wonderfully easy to transfer music and podcasts from my libraries to my phone and to manage them on my phone with it.

Then I upgraded to a Nokia Lumia 1020, which uses Windows Phone 8, and found that I’d need to change the media management software, because Zune doesn’t work with Windows Phone 8. Microsoft has released a new generation of media management software for use with Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft make two versions of this media management software for Windows, a desktop application and a Modern UI App.

I have tried both of them, and I’m here to tell you that they are both absolutely abysmal. Microsoft should really be embarrassed at how bad they are.

Here’s a screenshot of Zune displaying some of my music albums. To copy an album across to the phone, I simply drag and drop the albums onto the icon of the phone:

Zune 04

Here’s the equivalent screen of the new desktop application:

Zune 06

For a start, there’s no way of displaying albums; only a list of genres and artists. Secondly, there’s no display of Album Art, which I find gives me useful visual cues. Thirdly, if I select a genre, then the list displayed under Artists does not change to display only those items (songs) that are tagged with the relevant genre, so I have no way of knowing the specifics of what I am about to sync. Also, I have no way of knowing how much space will be required on my phone.

If you think this is bad, here’s the equivalent opening screenshot of the Modern UI App when adding music to your phone:

Zune 07

The problem is that Microsoft has focused on its subscription-based cloud service for music – Xbox Music – and forgotten about those of us who have our own music collections or have no interest in paying a monthly subscription fee. If you are a subscriber to the Xbox Music service, then you can download music from the service directly to your Windows Phone 8 device. But if you are not a subscriber, Microsoft will point you in the direction of one of their media management software applications to transfer music to your phone, and using them is a horribly painful process.

Fortunately, I have discovered that there is another alternative; and that is Microsoft’s good old Windows Media Player. It knows about Windows Phone 8 devices, and can sync to them with ease. I can display my music collection by Album, Artist, Genre, Rating, even by Composer (none of the other Microsoft applications can do this), and sync my selection to my phone with ease.

Zune 08

You can also use it to browse the content of your Windows Phone and manage your media on the phone if you so wish. Here’s the Album view:

Zune 09

And here’s the photos on my phone:

Zune 11

By way of contrast, here’s what you see when you use Microsoft’s brand spanking new desktop application for Windows Phone to browse your photos:

Zune 12

Yup, it can’t even display thumbnails of your photos… As I say, Microsoft should be thoroughly ashamed of this rubbish.

I’ll be sticking to Windows Media Player for managing the music media on my phone from now on.

There’s a sting in the tail I’m afraid for those of you who are using a Windows device running Windows RT, such as the Surface 2. Windows Media Player isn’t available for Windows RT. I’m afraid you are stuck with Microsoft’s abysmal Windows Phone App.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet, Consumer Electronics, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Music and Windows Phone

  1. boma23 says:

    Thanks for the tip on WMP being of use!
    I was momentarily excited to see that Zune had a replacement, but now a little deflated – I don’t think I’ll even try the new app looking at that. I’ve been using Windows Explorer since moving to WP8, which itself appears infinitely better than the new utility looking at this…

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Yes, I still use the Windows Explorer for management of my photos. It exposes the high-resolution DNG files on my Nokia 1020, which WMP does not. However, for management of music media, WMP is streets ahead…

  2. gargamel says:

    A naive question: why do you use WP? Is it only because of the Nokia HW or am I missing something?

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