Xbox Music goes live
Microsoft has announced the launch of Xbox Music - what it claims to be the first all-in-one music service.
The new service, which replaces Microsoft Zune, will offer more than 30 million songs alongside a cloud storage offering that will offer users even more choice.
“The launch of Xbox Music is a milestone in simplifying digital music on every type of device and on a global scale,” said Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment business at Microsoft. “We’re breaking down the walls that fracture your music experiences today to ensure that music is better and integrated across the screens that you care about most — your tablet, PC, phone and TV.”
The new service will be available from today on the Xbox 360 and later this month on Windows 8 PCs and tablets and on mobile phones, starting with Windows Phone 8 at launch and additional platforms later.
Users of the service will get free streaming music on Windows 8 - although this will be limited after the first six months - although there will be a paid-for version: the Xbox Music Pass.
Those who pay $9.99 a month (UK pricing is still to be confirmed) will get an ad-free service with unlimited playback of any track across their tablet, PC, phone and Xbox 360.
The service, which looks to compete with Spotify and Rdio, will also offer users the chance to buy music a la carte via their Windows 8 tablet or PC and Windows Phone 8.
For those who like creating their own radio stations, Microsoft has Smart DJ. It claims it is a "new form of artist-based radio" and one that will create the "ultimate playlists by launching instant mixes based on your favourite artists".
In a cover-all-bases move, Microsoft also plans to offer a scan-and-match feature that will take you beyond the 30 million tracks offered globally through Xbox Music.
It will add all the music you own to your Xbox Music cloud catalogue, including music acquired through other services.
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Microsoft says that it also plans to expand the Xbox Music service to other devices and platforms in the coming year.
It will be pre-installed as the default music player on all Windows 8 tablets and PCs and on Windows Phone 8 smartphones, and it will be part of the 2012 console update for Xbox 360.
"Xbox Music isn’t just a listening experience that shows your tracks in spreadsheets and lists," the company explains.
"Taking full advantage of every screen on which you enjoy music, Xbox Music elevates your music experiences with striking visuals. As you listen on your tablet, PC, phone or TV, your screen comes to life with artist photos, bios, cover art and discography."
Although previous rumoured not to be launching until the end of the month (incorrectly) Xbox Music begins rolling out around the world tomorrow on Xbox 360 and later this month on Windows 8 PCs and tablets and on mobile phones, starting with Windows Phone 8 at launch and additional platforms later.