Microsoft has just announced its “all-in-one” music streaming service, Xbox Music, with a surprise press release. Just as rumors had concluded, Xbox Music is equal parts an ad-supported free streaming service, an all-you-can-eat subscription service, and a cloud-syncing music locker. The catalog is comprised of 30 million songs, by no means a small number.
For more details, keep reading past the break.
The company’s goal with Xbox Music is to eliminate the confusing process music lovers have to go through, traveling from an internet radio service, to a streaming service, and finally to purchasing the music. Xbox Music incorporates all of those aspects under the same roof, with Smart DJ now functioning as a competing artist radio service to Pandora, Spotify Radio, and others. Where Smart DJ is superior is in the unlimited skipping of songs, something other services cannot tout.
The subscription model has also returned in the form of the Xbox Music Pass — for $9.99 per month, users can stream as much music as they like without ads. However, there’s a bonus to buying into the subscription model: users can “take [their] music to the cloud, letting them enjoy the collection they’ve curated on other devices such as Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360″. In other words, Microsoft will sync user-created playlists, favorite artists, and Smart DJ stations across devices (but not full music collections yet).
Xbox Music is going to be available this week for Xbox 360 and Windows 8/RT devices, and will come for Windows Phone 8 when phones launch in a few weeks. Xbox Music apps will also come at a later point for iOS and Android devices.
However, The Verge has learned the unfortunate news that Xbox Music is not coming to Windows Phone 7 or Windows 7. Microsoft says users will have to make due with the Zune client on those platforms, which won’t benefit from cloud syncing or free streaming. The company also says the music player in Windows Phone 7 will remain branded as Zune, because it does not leverage the new features announced. That is a bitter disappointment following such an exciting product launch, and we have a feeling users are going to be more upset about this than Microsoft may be ready to handle.
Update: Microsoft says Xbox Music will launch sometime this week on the Xbox 360, not tomorrow as previously reported.