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How to Play Your Music with the Windows 8.1 Xbox Music App

If you’ve never used the Windows 8.1 tiled Metro Music app, Xbox Music, now’s a good time to give it a try. Follow these steps:

1

On the Start screen, tap or click the Xbox Music tile.

It’s the tile that looks like a pair of headphones. The app scans the music in your Music Library, and then comes up with something like the screen shown.

2

Click X to close out of the All Done notification and the Want to Hear this PC’s Music notification.

The first notification tells you to go to File Explorer to expand your Music Library.

The second notification tells you about all the wonderful ways you can spend your money with music in the Microsoft cloud.

3

If you have a Windows account, but don’t have an Xbox profile, the Sign In box should appear in the upper right. Tap or click the box that says Sign In.

If you don’t have an Xbox LIVE account (or Xbox profile, which is the same thing), Microsoft asks you to sign up.

What if you don’t have — and don’t want — a Microsoft account? If you aren’t willing to let Microsoft keep track of all your music, on your computer, Metro Xbox Music isn’t for you. Give up and use VLC Media Player or any of a hundred other media playing apps on the old-fashioned desktop side of the Windows 8 fence.

If you go ahead with registering and Xbox LIVE account, you may as well use the information Microsoft already has on file for you — that’s what appears on the screen — but do yourself a favor and uncheck the Please Spam Me (otherwise known as I'd Like to Receive Information . . .) and Sell My Info to Other Companies (Share My Contact Information with Partners . . .) boxes. Click I Accept.

If all goes well and the Xbox server isn’t down, you return to the main Metro Xbox Music page with all the notifications removed.

4

If you have any music already on your PC, tap or click one of the album tiles and see how the controls work.

When you play an album, it looks like the screen shown.

The first of the three buttons to the right of the album cover is the Play button. The + button controls playlists. The ellipses (. . .) button invites you to Explore Artist.

5

Click or tap on the ellipses, choose Explore Artist, and you bring up a wealth of information.

The ancillary information about an artist is gorgeous and thorough — and festooned with ads.

6

For the advanced playback controls, such as they are, go back to the Now Playing pane and right-click or swipe up from the bottom.

You see the Metro Xbox Music App bar shown. The controls are self-explanatory. The ellipses icon at the bottom marked More lets you delete a song from the playlist (but not from your computer), or show the File Properties dialog box for the song. Playback options in the lower-right corner include repeating the current song and/or shuffling songs on the playlist.

7

To see your whole music collection, tap or click the left arrow in the upper-left corner and then tap or click Collection on the left.

You can have Metro Xbox Music sort your collection by Album, Artist, or Song (that’s the first drop-down list); by Music on This PC (actually, in this Music Library), in the cloud, or both (all music); or by Date Added, A to Z, Release Year, Genre, or Artist.

8

Sort a few ways.

For example, instead of showing Songs by Date Added, tap or click the entry at the upper right and then choose A to Z, Genre, or Artist.

The list is long and cumbersome.

When you’re back in the main part of the app, you can tap or click an album cover and, depending on the album, listen to a 30-second preview of most album songs, with an option to buy.

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