Microsoft has officially announced the imminent release of Xbox Music, a music service that plans to compete with Apple’s iTunes and other streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.
Tomorrow it rolls out to Xbox 360 users who have a Gold subscription. The service will offer ad free streaming to users for the first 60 days.In its press release on Sunday evening, Microsoft announced the service will offer millions of tracks that will be available on every Windows 8 device — PCs, Windows RT tablets and Windows 8 phone.
Xbox Music will be pre-installed on all versions Windows 8 which is available to everyone on October 26. You’ll be able to stream songs, create playlists, download tracks and includes a Pandora like radio option. Free ad supported streaming is free but only on Windows 8.
There is a catch though. Free streaming will be limited to only 10 hours after 6 months. And if you’re using Windows 7, the service will remain Zune Music and you won’t have access to the Xbox Music service’s new features.
The grooviest feature is the Xbox Music Pass. This allows you unlimited and ad-free access to music streaming and syncing across your Windows 8 Phone, tablet, PC and Xbox 360 console for $ 9.99 a month. It also includes offline access approximately 70,000 music videos too.
Here’s a look at the new features from the Press Release:
- Free streaming1 music on Windows 8 and Windows RT. Enjoy on-demand access to tens of millions of songs for free on all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs. Discovering and enjoying free music on Windows 8 and Windows RT is as easy as typing an artist or song name and hitting “play” — songs are instantly available to stream and for you to create an unlimited amount of playlists.
- Xbox Music Pass. Want unlimited access to the songs and artists you care about, including offline access? Get an Xbox Music Pass for ad-free, unlimited playback of any track in our subscription catalog across your tablet, PC, phone and Xbox 3601 for US$9.99 per month.2 Xbox Music Pass also unlocks unlimited access to tens of thousands of music videos on your Xbox 360.
- Xbox Music Store. Want to own the music you love? The Xbox Music Store is a comprehensive MP3 marketplace giving you the opportunity to purchase a single track or entire album on your Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet or PC and Windows Phone 8.
- Smart DJ. Creating a new form of artist-based radio, the Smart DJ feature is a quick and dynamic way to personalize your collection, discover new favorites and create ultimate playlists by launching instant mixes based on your favorite artists. With unlimited skips and a view of the full recommended music stream, Smart DJ puts you in control of your Internet radio experience.
- Cloud Storage. Available in the coming year, a scan-and-match feature will take you beyond the 30 million tracks globally offered through Xbox Music. It will add all the music you own to your Xbox Music cloud catalog, including music acquired through other services. This means you can add almost any content you have to your personal Xbox Music collection, even if it’s not available in the Xbox Music catalog.
- Social Music. Xbox Music will add unique social features in the coming year that let you share your music experiences with friends and family.
- Platform Expansion. Xbox Music will become available on other platforms in the coming year.