Windows 8, Music Libraries, Xbox Music/Old Zune DRM music.

We have all been through the creating CD collections of our favorite music.  We all probably have those silver brief cases full of CDs collecting dust in some corner of the house, I know I do.  When Zune Marketplace (which is going away soon, if not already) came about…I thought this is cool, I can do my part to save trees (no cardboard packaging or CD) by purchasing and downloading my Favorite artists.

I’ve have an original 32G Zune,  which is still kicking if I need.  I do still use my ZuneHD daily.  Then MS jumped on the McBandwagon of a Subscription services with their Zune Pass.  Not being a fan of subscriptions, I continued to buy my albums.  My music library has grown to a decent size over the years.

In the early days MS sold albums with the lovely DRM attached, only later on did they start providing music in MP3 format.  If you are unfortunate as I to have the albums with the Zune’s DRM you know how painful it is to understand the Zune Software.  I do know you have to have the Zune Software on a box to handle the DRM.

Ok, I even confused myself with all that above…

Observation:

Xbox Music does not really seem to play music from my network music libraries.  Even though I have set up network Music (included under Libraries > Music) libraries on all my Windows 8 devices, it only knows of the Libraries structure; then it streams that music from the cloud.  The problem here is I get commercials, and clean versions of albums.  Anyone that has Staind or Seether in their library knows you can’t listen to the clean versions by those guys.

Update: 

Ok, just found that in Xbox Music you can choose All, Cloud or music on This PC (which is the Music library including “included” Network music libraries on the client).  Choosing This PC does not fix the old Zune DRM issue.  While on This PC, If you choose to play an Album that has Zune DRM and do not have a Zune Pass; you will receive an error stating you need a Zune Pass to play this album.  Choosing This PC does take care of the Commercials and Clean versions issues.

I figured out I was not going to be able to use Xbox music to listen to (DRM) music I purchased from Zune Marketplace that lives on my network.  Zune Software is a gas hog so I wasn’t going to put that on the devices that I wanted to listen to my music.  The MP3 albums I purchased from Zune Marketplace work just peachy.

What I did:

My music library lives my Home Server (the PC on my network that serves up media) on the network.  I have installed the Zune Software on the Home Server, I have signed in and verified that all the old DRM albums work.  On the home server I have my streaming all set up.

On the clients (Surface Pro and Win 8 boxes), as I mentioned, I have included my (home server) music library. I can use Windows Media player or Media Center to stream my music (including Zune DRM’d) to any of my Windows 8 devices.

Media Player is Ho hum looking but gets the job done.  It streams nicely to my Windows 8 pcs that I do not have Media Center on.  Media Center on the other hand provides a more pleasing interface.  I did pay the $9.99 for Media Center and got through my crisis on my Surface Pro of the other day :0.  With your (network) libraries set up on the client, Media Center will find the Photos and Music automatically.

My Home Server has an HD tuner in it  that acts as a DVR, it also houses my photos, music and videos. On my Surface Pro I have included the Music, Photos, Videos and Recorded TV libraries.  Using Media Center on my Surface I can listen to all my music, watch recorded TV and Browse my Photos that resides on my home server.  A cool thing while music is streaming choose “Play Photos” as a screen saver.  It uses my Home Server Photos as a slideshow while the music plays.

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