So long, Zune… hello Xbox Music. Microsoft has been slowly retiring its Zune brand over the past year, making way for its next attempt at the digital music space already crammed full of stores and steaming services like iTunes and Nokia Music, Spotify, Rdio and Simfy. The company has decided to re-enter the game with a multi-device super platform that lets you stream music or download it to keep on your Xbox, PC, Surface or Windows Phone. Yes please.
Xbox Music, which will be available on the Xbox 360 from tomorrow and Windows 8 devices from October 26, will hold a global catalogue of over 30-million songs. Yes, it’s big. To put that figure in perspective: iTunes has 26-million songs, Nokia Music has 17-million, and Spotify has 18-million globally.
The new service, which will replace Windows Media Player as the default programme for audio files, will come pre-installed on all Windows 8 devices (including the Surface tablet and Windows Phones). Microsoft has unfortunately left Windows 7 users out of the equation, as Xbox Music reportedly won’t be available on PCs or smartphones running the older operating system, although those users can continue to use Zune.
Microsoft hopes Xbox Music will be your new one-stop music solution. Taking a bit of a shot at its competitors, it suggests that instead of listening to a song on Pandora or Spotify, then switching over to iTunes or Amazon to actually purchase it, you’ll be able to do it all on its new platform. Windows 8 users will have a free 6 month streaming trial, after which they can convert to a monthly US$9.99 subscription. Microsoft is also working on Xbox Music apps for iOS and Android.
“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,” says corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy Yusuf Mehdi. “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 — make it really beautiful, and have it work across all of your devices.”