Microsoft Launching Music Service with Windows 8

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is giving the music scene another try, this time using its popular Xbox franchise to compete with the likes of Apple and Google. The new service includes an international catalog of about 30 million songs.

Consumers can listen to any song for free on computers and tablets running Windows 8. Or, they can use their Xbox 360 console.

Music Marketplace Vastly Different

Microsoft's last foray into the digital media distribution arena went poorly. The firm's hardware device, called the 'Zune', was eventually taken off the market after being unable to compete with Apple's iPod. Zune software proved no match for Apple's iTunes service.

Now, however, Xbox Music enters a vastly different digital music marketplace.

Currently there are many different digital media distribution services: Spotify, for example, provides on-demand listening to large libraries of music. Pandora offers radio stations geared to specific tastes and preferences.

Microsoft promises that Xbox Music will combine elements of many music services into one. Radio stations will tailor music to certain tastes, for example, yet the service will also support play of music stored on your own computer. (Source:

The Xbox Music Pass offers unlimited access to music from a subscription catalog playable through a Windows-friendly PC or the Xbox 360 console.

Microsoft's Investment in the Future

Xbox Music also includes an innovative scan-and-match feature that promises to simplify adding preferred tracks remotely to the Xbox Music playlist, even if the songs are not available in the catalogue. (Source:

Other forthcoming additions to the new service include a Social Music feature so individuals can share music with family and friends, plus a feature that will make Xbox Music accessible on non-Windows-based platforms.

Microsoft's Xbox Music service will be free to those willing to put up with frequent advertisements. To ditch the ads, users can pay $10 per month. Users interested in accessing Xbox Music on their Xbox 360 consoles must sign up for an Xbox Live Gold subscription (about $60 per year).

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