Microsoft Announces iTunes Competitor: Xbox Music

Microsoft officially announced Xbox Music on Sunday, the company's answer to Apple's iTunes digital content service.

The company said on Sunday that Xbox Music will be an all-in-one music service which will be included in a rolling update to Xbox Live starting Tuesday, October 16. The service will be expanded into Windows 8 when the new OS launches on October 26, and Windows Phone 8 shortly thereafter.

"The all-in-one music service combines the best aspects of free-streaming radio, music subscription services and music purchasing options, all in one elegant package," said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy. "No longer do people have to rely on 'service hopping' to get the music they love."

Service hopping is defined as hearing a tune on an internet radio station like Pandora, and then hunting it down on a music subscription service. The user would then load up iTunes and actually purchase the song so it can be played on multiple devices. Microsoft's Xbox Music service wants to eliminate all that by offering a one-stop shop for discovery and purchasing.

Mehdi claims that Xbox Music will offer 30 million download-to-own songs from the start, and over 70,000 music videos only available on the Xbox 360 console. Even more, users will be able to hear individual songs or full albums for free on their Windows 8-based tablet and PC, create music mixes and playlists, create artist-based Internet radio stations, and use Smart DJ to create playlists with unlimited skipping. It will all be cloud-based too so that users can access their music and playlists from multiple devices.

"We’re going to power what we feel is going to be the best music experience for users of Windows 8, and it’s the only operating system on a tablet that can do free streaming because of the rights we’ve secured," Mehdi says.

Naturally there's a catch to the whole Xbox Music service. Users will be able to stream music for free on internet-connected Windows 8-based PCs and tablets, but it will be ad-supported. But by purchasing an Xbox Music Pass for US $9.99 a month, users will be able to take that music to the cloud so they can enjoy the collection they’ve curated on other devices such as Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360.

Eventually Microsoft will offer apps for other platforms like iOS and Android.

"When creating Xbox Music, we started off with a simple principle — music should never be work. That’s why we’ve put it all together to create, basically, a one-stop-shop," said Scott Porter, principal program manager for Microsoft’s Xbox Music. "It’s a really nice marriage between unlimited listening, the cloud and your personal collection. We hope users out there will see that we’ve put together the world’s entire catalog that they can easily integrate with what they already own — they can very quickly simplify their digital music life."

Xbox Music, launching on Tuesday, will be available in 22 countries. The entire Microsoft announcement can be read here.

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  • thecolorblue
    "When creating Xbox Music, we started off with a simple principle — music should never be work."

    I chuckled
  • thecolorblue
    Offering up CD quality Lossless files for less than 99cents per track & totally DRM free??

    didn't think so... no thanks
  • Ohmybad
    will it work with the 2 Zune HDs i own that are now paper weights??
  • bavman
    Hey microsoft you're only like 10 years late to the game. I miss the old innovative microsoft that actually made a difference in the world of tech.
  • ivanto
    thecolorblue"When creating Xbox Music, we started off with a simple principle — music should never be work."
    What kind of principle is that? Pure PR and Marketing, epic fail in my mind.

  • echondo
    Won't last more than a year, and iTunes is garbage already. I buy retail music and have my own home server that has everything backed up and organized by myself, I can even FTP into it if I need a song when I'm out and about.

    iTunes and this "Xbox Music" isn't anything except for a store and a waste of DRM.

    Why name it "Xbox" Music anyway? Why not "Windows Music". Sounds so much more simpler and professional.
  • alextheblue
    thecolorblueOffering up CD quality Lossless files for less than 99cents per track & totally DRM free??didn't think so... no thanksThis isn't a service for you. It would cost a lot more if that was the case. You can still buy physical media, of course. I often do, and then transcode to WMA Lossless. This kind of service is "good enough" for most people. I hope it's better than iTunes, I imagine it will be, given what they're constructing.
  • deadlockedworld
    They should call this what it is. Try number 3 or maybe 4? I thought windows media player and basically all that crapware that was on my old PC was intended to do this and failed miserably.
  • sun-devil99
    Ohmybadwill it work with the 2 Zune HDs i own that are now paper weights??Doubtful. Do those go along with the Beta Max and HD DVD Player that are now door stops (or boat anchors)?
  • gfair
    Here we go again.... again...