We have known for quite a while that Zune was on its way out for a new brand. Over the past few months as new updates to Xbox have and Windows 8 RTMed, details about Microsoft’s entertainment catalog were sketchy. While we knew entertainment was going under the Xbox brand, there were rumors about a major update to the music service. Cnet’s Greg Sandoval broke the story about Microsoft’s initial plans and a month later, Tom Warren at The Verge speculated that Microsoft was ready to launch the service at the E3. That didn’t happen.
However, it looks like Microsoft is timing the launch of the service with their public launch of Windows 8/RT, Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8. In an announcement yesterday, Microsoft unveiled the new Xbox Music. The new service has kept everything that was good about Zune Music (Smart DJ, gorgeous artist backgrounds), and now is more coherent.
The features to be offered under the new service are:
- Cloud-synced playlists
- Limited free streaming on Windows Phone 8, Windows 8/RT and Xbox (unlimited for first 6 months)
- Music Subscription service (Zune Pass is now Xbox Music Pass)
- A Music marketplace
- Cross platform (Android and iOS) soon
- Add your music catalog using the scanning service
- Social integration at some point
All these features sound amazing on paper, and over time Microsoft should be able become a major music service with the one-Windows and cross-platform support. Microsoft produced a short video to explain Microsoft’s grand plans with the service:
For what it’s worth, I have started using Spotify because downloading and editing meta tags is a pain–it’s just cumbersome to manage. However, I don’t pay for Spotify Premium, I primarily listen to radio on my phone. Xbox Music subscription might make a lot of sense to me since I am Windows Phone, Windows and Xbox user.