In the latest Phone Companion app for Windows 10, which shipped last Friday with build 10162 (and seems to be apparently pulled, there are references to Groove Music, and the Groove Music Pass, leading to the obvious speculation that the much maligned Xbox Music service is about to undergo a much needed name change.
Paul Thurrott noticed the changes, and also noted that a Canadian firm, Zikera, already has a Windows and iOS app named Groove. Microsoft however does indeed own the (US) Trademark to "Groove", for the "electronic transmission of software, messages, data, text, sound, graphics and video via computer networks, wireless networks and the Internet", which seems to fit the bill nicely for Xbox Music. It's not a trivial issue to track down all the various worldwide trademarks for the name, that's what Microsoft lawyers are for, although they've missed before (see: SkyDrive), but it's still our guess that Microsoft will be in the clear to use the name.
What's perhaps more disconcerting than the potential legal screw ups is that Microsoft, after going through all the trouble to use a name that's already in their possession, would blunder so badly by dropping the name right out there for the world to see. Ahh, Microsoft, it's why we love you so.
And while naming fiascos are seemingly a trademark in themselves for Microsoft, there's a question, as Thurrott rightly asks, as to where Microsoft's heart is when it comes to music services in general. They probably cost more in licensing than they generate in revenues and unless you're Apple, you missed the boat on getting music catalog lock-in. Should Microsoft even be in the music service business at all?
Microsoft owned MixRadio, which came over in the Nokia deal, but sold it off to Line, and so that avenue for bolstering up the Xbox Music service went with it. Still, wishfully, maybe Microsoft has big plans for Groove Music. For right now, officially, it's still Xbox Music, but we have to admit we like the name Groove Music. Here's hoping the service lives up to the name.