1. mrpuny's Avatar
    Sorry for the title. Just felt ranty and felt like giving a title that would attract attention :-) But hear me out. Please. Because I think there are somewhat important questions here.

    Arguably, what follows has comments that span topics which could be considered appropriate for specific forums, like Xbox, Groove Music, Windows 10, etc., but Windows 10 is supposed to be the "One OS" that unifies all these Microsoft platforms and services, and so this seems like as good a place as any to put this question since it's an ecosystem question.

    I've been spending time exploring Android on the phone side recently. I've also have an iPad and keep myself in touch with that ecosystem. But for the last few years my family and I have mostly been living in the Microsoft ecosystem - PCs, Xboxes, Windows Phone/Mobile, Xbox/Groove Music, etc. And here's a question: Why is Microsoft so bad at family plans for their services compared to their competition? Well, except for Office Home. That's seriously awesome. My family and I absolutely love that plan. Why don't these other Microsoft groups have equally competitive offerings?

    Seriously, everything else is lousy in comparison. At one time, Microsoft offered a family Xbox Gold plan that gave 4 accounts for around $100/year. That's been gone for a while, but fortunately I've been able to buy discounted Gold codes for around $30-$35/year. Still a bit of an increase in price for my family.

    Likewise, both Apple and Google are offering music services for $14.99/month for up to 6 users. Spotify also has a family plan though in comparison right now it's not as good ($10/month for the first user, $5/month for additional family users.) Still potentially better than Groove Music for a family, though. Where's Microsoft's response to this? You may be able to pick up a decent deal on Groove Music pass codes, but they seem to have become relatively sparse lately. There were some great deals a year or two ago from Microsoft around Christmas and "Pi Day" where 1 year passes were floating around for around $30-$35, but I haven't seen similar pricing for a while.

    Also, Apple has been offering the ability to share purchases of books, apps, and movies with family members (again, up to 6) for a while now. From what I understand, Google just annouced the same thing, at least for apps. Does Microsoft have plans to address this?

    Maybe I'm just being too much of a downer, but it's American Craft Brewer week, and what better time for me to be crying in my beer?
    05-19-2016 09:52 PM
  2. orlbuckeye's Avatar
    05-20-2016 08:19 AM
  3. mrpuny's Avatar
    Uh, that article is about Google Play Music's family plan. In fact, Paul specifically points out that Groove Music does not have a family plan when comparing them:

    "As for Groove Music, I dont need to tell you that Microsoft isnt exactly competitive in this space. The firm does of course offer a Groove Music Pass subscription for $9.99 a month (or $99 a year) but theres no family plan."
    05-20-2016 09:34 AM
  4. MarCou's Avatar
    They don't hate families. They just love money.

    Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
    05-21-2016 05:01 AM
  5. mprebich's Avatar
    Agree with you 100%.

    Since MS is not giving us much hope on the phone hardware front, and going for the software and services market, how they could not give family plan offers to all their own Windows ecosystem customers is beyond me.

    Continuing on the "anti-family" theme, I still hold a grudge for dropping support of Rooms, with no replacement. while Outlook Groups sits there as a completely viable replacement but only made available to Work and School account users.

    While I still keep my Groove supscription, my family plan is Spotify. We have an Xbox Live Gold, but why no family plan there?

    Unfortunately, even with great Windows laptops (ASUS Zenbooks), my kids' first thought of software and services is never anything Microsoft.
    05-21-2016 07:49 PM
  6. Keith Wallace's Avatar
    Wait, what about how you can share one Xbox LIVE Gold sub with all profiles on the same console? You go from a $100, far-reaching family plan to an all-inclusive, local one. IF you have 4 kids sharing an Xbox, for example, they can all get LIVE Gold for that $30-40 sale price.
    05-21-2016 08:51 PM
  7. theefman's Avatar
    I think the reason is Microsoft is primarily an enterprise company and consumer facing features like this aren't high on their agenda because competing in the consumer space isn't high on their agenda. All they do is focused on supporting their Enterprise services; office (#1), azure, then windows 10. their consumer offerings, phones, groove, videos are not competitive because they don't have the full attention of the company and are almost superfluous to what the company offers.

    The only consumer product they seem to be behind is the Xbox but that seems to exist in it's own universe and isn't used to push other MS services, like how phones have been sold with a free year of office 365. Compared to the avalanche of consumer focused news that google just announced it's obvious Microsoft isn't really playing in the same game.
    05-21-2016 09:23 PM
  8. mrpuny's Avatar
    Wait, what about how you can share one Xbox LIVE Gold sub with all profiles on the same console? You go from a $100, far-reaching family plan to an all-inclusive, local one. IF you have 4 kids sharing an Xbox, for example, they can all get LIVE Gold for that $30-40 sale price.
    Well, that's true, and a good point. It's not how we use our consoles, though, so I tend not to think about it that way. We've been a multi-console household since I had multiple Xbox 360s serving as media center extenders, so we naturally tended to gravitate to different TVs when playing. And while initially we had only one Xbox One, with the various deals over the past couple of years, I've added two more because that just seems "normal" now. The other thing though is that they never back ported that to the 360s, so if you only have one of those, or have a mixed 360/One household, multiple Live Gold accounts are still required.

    I'll also give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here since the Games with Gold feature adds a cost to the service that might make the old family plan unsustainable.

    I think the reason is Microsoft is primarily an enterprise company and consumer facing features like this aren't high on their agenda because competing in the consumer space isn't high on their agenda. All they do is focused on supporting their Enterprise services; office (#1), azure, then windows 10. their consumer offerings, phones, groove, videos are not competitive because they don't have the full attention of the company and are almost superfluous to what the company offers.

    The only consumer product they seem to be behind is the Xbox but that seems to exist in it's own universe and isn't used to push other MS services, like how phones have been sold with a free year of office 365. Compared to the avalanche of consumer focused news that google just announced it's obvious Microsoft isn't really playing in the same game.
    Yeah, it's disappointing that they just don't seem to have it in them to be competing here. It's funny, though. In a way, Groove music has an OK deal for a single user; most of the other plans appear to be limited to just a monthly $9.99 single user plan whereas Microsoft offers a bit of a discount with the $99/year plan.

    But especially now that Spotify has joined the 14.99/month for six user party, I think Microsoft needs to come up with something to compete or seriously pack it in.

    What's interesting to me is that as I survey these family plan offerings - not just music, but across the iOS, Android, and Amazon ecosystems, it seems like Apple has the best overall approach by far. An "organizer" sets up the family group, can define another parent/guardian, and children, a payment method, and then require that the children get permission before buying any content (apps, books, etc.). And parents/guardians can set up accounts for children under 13!

    Google's setup in comparison is actually kind of hokey. The "children" have to be 13 or older (or at least claim to be) and while by default the organizer has to approve in-app purchases, there's no approval at all for other purchases (apps themselves or other content.) The more I think about it, the sillier this reads:

    "Members of your family group can make purchases on Google Play using the family payment method without your approval. You'll get an email notification each time a family member makes a purchase with the family payment method.

    By default, in-app purchase approval is turned on for all your family members. This means they'll need your approval each time they want to use the family payment method to make in-app purchases billed by Google Play, like game levels or virtual currency."

    (Edit: And I just checked this to make sure I'm not misreading the above. It's true, if you go to the play store app and manage the users in the family group, there's an option to turn approval for in-app purchases on or off, but nothing about requiring approval for purchases in general. Doesn't that seem ridiculous?)

    What's weird is that in a lot of ways it seems like Microsoft has had things in place for quite a while that would allow for a fairly robust family sharing system. They already have the concept of accounts for children, including under 13, and a fairly extensive (if somewhat complex) set of family settings/restrictions/etc across Windows and Xbox. How hard would it be for them to clean this up and tie it all together with some family plans for content and make a real competitor to what Apple is offering? (And frankly be superior to what Google seems to be developing?)
    05-23-2016 10:28 PM

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