Microsoft announces Xbox Music

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 15, 2012
Updated • Oct 15, 2012
Microsoft, Music, Music and Video, Windows 8

I'm a fan of Internet Radio and get my music fix from free stations that stream the music that I like to listen to right to my PC. While that is sufficient for me, some friends prefer a "music everywhere" experience, while others like to pick the songs that they want to listen to from a vast music archive.

Microsoft announced the launch of Xbox Music yesterday, calling it the solution for all things music. Xbox Music will launch tomorrow, on Tuesday 16, 2012 on the Xbox, and on October 26, 2012 on Windows 8. Before I look at restrictions and unknowns - believe me there are some - I'd like to take a look at the feature set that Xbox Music offers.

Xbox Music

  • Free music streaming on Windows 8, Windows RT and PCs. What's meant by this is that there will be a Windows Store app for Windows 8 and Windows RT, and a separate application or service for other versions of Windows. Creation of unlimited playlists and unlimited skipping.
  • Xbox Music Pass is a paid service that gets you offline access to songs. It removes ads from the service and offers unlimited playbacks across tablets, PCs, phones and Xbox 360. It is available for $9.99 per month and subscribers get access to tens of thousands of music videos on the Xbox 360 on top of that.
  • Integrated music store to purchase songs in the Xbox Music Store
  • Smart DJ, a feature to automatically create artist-based radio stations

The service will see improvements in the coming year, including support for additional platforms and an iTunes Match like feature that scans and matches your local music collection with the 30 million catalog of Xbox Music to give you access to those songs in the cloud.

Microsoft has not revealed all there is to know yet about the service. It is for instance not clear if and how the free music streaming will be limited. Will it be unlimited or restricted to a certain number of songs? Will it be ad-driven, and if it is, how will that look like and interfere with the experience? It is likely that ads are used to make money from the free streaming offer, especially since one of the features of the paid Xbox Music Pass service is an ad-free experience, but we do not know how many ads there will be. It is also not clear if Xbox Music will be available worldwide, or restricted to certain regions.

What will hold Xbox Music back, at least for users who do not own only Microsoft devices is missing support for non-Microsoft platforms. If you have a PC and a Xbox 360, but an Android phone or an iPad, then you can only use Xbox Music on the PC and the Xbox 360 and not the mobile devices. Microsoft announced support for additional platforms for 2013, but did not mention the platforms it will add support for. While it is very likely that we will see support for Android and iOS, the two big names in the mobile world right now, it is not confirmed yet.

Microsoft calls it an all-in-one music service, and while that may be true if you only own Microsoft hardware and devices, it is not true if you do not.

I will test the service on my Windows 8 Pro PC once it gets released for the PC on October 26 to see for myself how the service works and compares to related services.


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  1. ilev said on October 15, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Windows 7 and Windows phone 7 users were dropped behind. Just like Windows
    Mobile was dropped with the coming of WP7, and just WP7 was dropped
    with the coming of WP8.

    Xbox Music is not available on Windows Phone 7 or Windows 7

    Microsoft took the wraps off its Xbox Music service today, with free streaming on Windows 8-based PCs and tablets. However, Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 users will not be able to access the new service. Xbox Music is designed for Microsoft’s Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox 360 systems……

    Wonder what users with WP8 and Windows 7 or users with WP7 and Windows 8
    will use.

    1. veli said on October 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

      WP7 and Windows 7 users can still use their Zune Pass to access the 30millions tracks with the current Zune app.

      The only new thing with Xbox Music is the free ad supported option, and that’s what WP7 won’t get. I assume if there will be a web client, then any one and their grandmother with a browser can access Xbox Music.

      1. ilev said on October 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        Zune pass won’t have the free music streaming like Xbox Music. On Zune Pass
        users pay for this service.

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