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Microsoft launches Xbox Music service

October 15, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Xbox Music debuts Tuesday on the game console, offering a combination of free music streaming, a subscription option that would allow users to download individual tracks or listen to songs without advertising, as well as a digital music store.
Xbox Music debuts Tuesday on the game console, offering a combination of…

After failing to gain traction in the digital music market with its Zune player and service, Microsoft Corp. hits the reset button with the launch of a new music offering for the Xbox 360 game console, and smartphones and computers running Microsoft's new Windows 8.

Xbox Music debuts Tuesday on the game console, offering a combination of free music streaming, a subscription option that would allow users to download individual tracks or listen to songs without advertising, as well as a digital music store.

It will be available Oct. 26 on Windows 8-fitted computers and tablets, and later on Windows 8 smartphones. Microsoft announced its plans for a revamped digital music offering during the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, effectively replacing the Zune with its better-known Xbox entertainment brand.

Xbox Music will compete with music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora, Apple Inc.'s iTunes store and the Sony Entertainment Network, Sony's streaming music and movie service that runs on the PlayStation 3.

Initially, users in the United States would have free, unlimited access to a library of 18 million songs (the global catalog reaches 30 million). Those who want an commercial-free listening experience can pay $9.99 a month (or $99.99 a year) for the Xbox Music Pass.

The Microsoft Music Store will sell MP3 digital songs at prices comparable to other online stores.

Other features include a Smart DJ function that helps listeners discover new music by creating custom music streams around a favorite artist. 

In the coming year, Microsoft plans to offer a scan-and-match feature that will identify the songs a consumer already owns (including those purchased through other services) and deposit them in the user's Xbox Music cloud catalog. That would add virtually any content to an individual's collection -- even if it's not available in the Xbox Music catalog.

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