Microsoft Unveils Xbox Music Service
October 15, 2012

Xbox Music Comes To Microsoft Devices

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Just days before they announced their latest smartphone, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times predicted Apple could be poised and ready to release their take on a music streaming service in the vein of Pandora or Spotify. If this rumor is true, it looks like Microsoft may beat them to the punch, as they plan to announce Xbox Music, a service with a catalog of music 30 million tracks deep and the potential penetration that a combination of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox could bring.

In fact, this announcement is just another way Microsoft is tying each of their platforms together to bring a more singular experience to their users.

According to the New York Times, Xbox Music will use the same catalog the old Zune once used and can be accessed on any computer, console, smartphone or tablet running the latest Microsoft software when it is first released.

Microsoft has also said that while their own devices will get the first taste of this music service, Xbox Music will "become available on other platforms in the coming year."

In other words, this service could be accessible to nearly anyone with a Spotify account. In the states, a premium Xbox Music subscription will set customers back $9.99, the same as a premium Spotify account. In the UK, however, Xbox Music will cost £1 less, at £8.99 as opposed to £9.99. A free version will be available of course, but will also be ad-supported, causing breaks in the listening experience. These paying users will also be able to buy and download songs from the Xbox Music catalog.

Microsoft´s new service is a bit like Apple´s iTunes Match as well. According to CNET, Microsoft will roll-out a feature next year which will allow users the ability to store and stream music from their own collection via a “scan-and-match” option, similar to Apple´s.

With their music in the cloud, users will not only be able to stream the latest songs from their favorite artists, they´ll also be able to have access of all their favorites on any compatible console, PC, smartphone or tablet.

“Xbox has become the entertainment brand for Microsoft," explained Microsoft´s principal program manager, Scott Porter, speaking to CNET.

"Music is a key part of that strategy."

Speaking with the New York Times, Porter said his company wants to make listening to music simple, noting that many users rely on two or more services to provide on-demand listening and access their own library.

“The dilemma is that music has become work,” said Porter.

“Our vision for Xbox Music is that it shouldn´t have to be work.”

According to Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research, the service won´t be what sells these customers on Microsoft´s offerings.

“This is not going to matter if no one wants the devices,” said Greenfield, speaking to the New York Times.

“You need to have a killer device.”

Any device capable of running Windows 8 will have full access to Xbox Music once the new OS is released on October 26th. The service will also be available to current Xbox 360 consoles tomorrow, but Windows Phone 8 users will have to wait a while for Microsoft to create a phone-ready version of the streaming service.

Apple is expected to hold an event October 23rd to release their new, rumored iPad Mini. Should the Wall Street Journal´s and the New York Times´ rumors be true, perhaps Apple could announce their own streaming service in tandem with an iTunes 11 unveiling?