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Windows 8 Music app update hits the right notes but gets no standing ovation

A new update for Windows 8's baked-in Music app doesn't add much, but the handful of improvements it does provide are welcome ones indeed.

The Windows app update parade keeps on marching. Mere hours after an update for Windows 8's Mail, Calendar, and People apps popped up in the Windows Store, the operating system's baked-in Music app is receiving a refresh of its own, though the alterations are subtle tweaks rather than a substantial overhaul.

In fact, the changes are so slight that you might not even notice them if they weren't pointed out. A new in-app volume indicator allows you to fiddle with the music volume independently of the overall system volume, and a tweak to the Now Playing screen now shows a list of songs queued to play after the current track.

Buried deep in the Preferences tab of the Settings charm, the update also includes a new option that allows the Music app to scan your local music collection. It then compares those file signatures against its cloud-based music library, and any song matches it finds are then made available for streaming to any Music-supporting device.

Finally, The Verge reports that as with the recent Mail, Calendar, and People updates, the Music app update brings a performance boost designed to smooth out its oft-bumpy performance on Windows RT devices such as Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet.

All in all, it's a solid yet unspectacular refresh for Windows 8's default audio solution. Is it strong enough to propel Xbox Music as a service past its streaming song competition? Not even close.

The slick interface still favors form over function, and the limited device support--Xbox Music is only available on Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, and the Xbox 360--is laughable compared to the far reach of services like Slacker Radio and Pandora.

If you're already a heavy Music app user, however, the minor update will be a welcome one indeed--especially if you're a Windows RT owner.


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