Microsoft Launches Xbox Music
New music service is part of larger push to offer extensive entertainment content for Windows 8 devices
By George Winslow -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/15/2012 4:21:52 PM
As part of the launch, Microsoft will be offering some 30 million songs globally, including some 70,000 music videos, of which 18 million will be available in the U.S.
The launch of the services is timed to the upcoming release of Windows 8 and new Microsoft mobile devices later this month and is part of the company's push to offer a much improved entertainment experience for these devices.
Although Microsoft's Zune music service failed to become a serious competitor to iTunes in the digital music space, the company's renewed push into music highlights the importance of its overall entertainment efforts. "You can't be an entertainment company without music," noted Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music in an interview.
The Xbox Music service also highlights Microsoft's ongoing shift in the positioning Xbox as an entertainment offering -- with extensive movies, TV and music content -- rather than simply a gaming console. Those efforts have made Microsoft an important partner for TV and movie companies during the last two years.
The new music service does, however, represent a significant shift from its earlier efforts. "Zune was all about the device," Johnson explained. "This is more about a service that connects all the devices together."
Johnson noted that there are a number of well-established players in the digital music space for streaming, Internet radio and downloads. But consumers face some difficult challenges moving from one type of services to another or in accessing their favorite content on multiple devices.
"We see a very big opportunity in taking those disparate experiences and bringing them together into one experience," he noted.
As a result, the new Xbox Music offering will allow consumers to access music on multiple devices and will include three types of services: free streaming on all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs; the subscription Xbox Music Pass that will cost $9.99 in the U.S.; and the Xbox Music store.
The offering also includes cloud-based services that will allow users to access playlists and their favorite content on multiple devices.
The free streaming services launches on Oct. 26 in 15 markets worldwide. The Xbox Music Pass will begin rolling out on Oct. 16 on Xbox consoles in 22 markets and will be on Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 in 22 markets.
The Xbox Music Store will also be available on Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 in 22 markets as those devices become available.
While Windows 8 is designed to offer improved entertainment experiences, Microsoft is also planning to make the Music services available to other devices. Sometime in 2013 Apple iOS and Android devices should also have access to Xbox Music.
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