Microsoft unveils Xbox Music for Windows 8

Microsoft has unveiled an Xbox Music service, with both streaming and download-to-own options – and designed to compete with Apple and Spotify.

Microsoft unveils Xbox Music for Windows 8

Launched ahead of the arrival of Windows 8 next week, Microsoft said Xbox Music was “the first all-in-one music service that gives you the freedom to stream custom-created playlists for free, subscribe to all the music you want or download-to-own your favourite songs”.

According to the company, the free streaming service will be available to all Windows 8 and Windows RT customers. Microsoft said there are 30 million tracks in the catalogue, and the service will be available from tomorrow.

It will add all the music you own to your Xbox Music cloud catalogue, including music acquired through other services

“There are a lot of individual services that do a good job, but today there isn’t a service which can pull together the benefits of download-to-own, music subscription, or free streaming services,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president for interactive entertainment. “With Xbox Music, what we wanted to do is bring all of that value in one simple, easy-to-use service, then build some additional value on top”

As well as working on Windows 8 machines, the service will be expanded to include its phones and effectively replaces the failed Zune project as Microsoft’s attempt at providing music.

The company said users would be able to listen to individual songs or full albums for free on Windows 8-based tablets and PCs, create playlists and artist-based radio stations and use “Smart DJ” to make playlists and also purchase the music they want to own.

Ad-funded or subscription fees

While the company cited the service as a good reason to upgrade to Windows 8, the services will be funded by advertising, meaning interruptions in listening.

To get rid of adverts, customers will need to buy an Xbox Music Pass for $9.99 a month.

Like other cloud-based services, such as Apple’s Music Match, Microsoft said it would roll out a cloud storage feature to provide streaming access to music customers already own from remote locations.

“A scan-and-match feature will take you beyond the 30 million tracks globally offered through Xbox Music,” the company said. “It will add all the music you own to your Xbox Music cloud catalogue, including music acquired through other services.”

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