Outfits like Pandora and Spotify have helped pave the way for a growing list of streaming music providers, once again changing the way we all access and consume our favorite songs. Microsoft will be next on that list as they aim to leverage their multi-platform presence with Xbox Music.
Microsoft’s Xbox Music service is set to go live on the Xbox 360 tomorrow before opening up for service on Windows 8 PCs, tablets and smartphones at a later date. The app will effectively replace the Zune branding and Windows Media Player on the console, we’re told.
Console owners will be the first to enjoy Microsoft’s 30 million song catalog (limited to 18 million in the US). For starters, you’ll need an Xbox Live Gold membership to participate. If you have an existing Zune Pass (now known as an Xbox Music Pass), you’re good to go for unlimited streaming.
The service otherwise costs $9.99 per month or $99.90 for a full year’s access in addition to whatever price you pay for your Xbox Live Gold membership. Microsoft will be offering a free 30-day trial subscription up front, however.
Xbox Music will launch on Windows 8 PCs and tablets on October 26 as a free ad-supported application. You’ll still need an Xbox Music Pass to bypass the ads and gain access to song-specific streaming. The free version will offer unlimited streaming for the first six months. After that, users will be limited to 10 hours of listening per calendar month.
Microsoft highlights features like offline listening and a “smart” radio station built around a specific song, artist or album. And since the service is tied in with your Microsoft login, you’ll be able to sync settings and preferences across all devices using the cloud.
A version for Windows Phone 8 handsets is expected to launch shortly after October 26.