Microsoft may not exactly be a music powerhouse, but they have definitely ventured into this space before. Prior to 2010, the Zune was a well-recognized music player which was accompanied by the Zune Music Marketplace, home to over 11 million tracks. However, slumping sales persuaded Microsoft to reinvent the brand, and they merged the struggling music division with their popular Xbox platform. Xbox Music was the end result; an ad-supported streaming service that competes with Apple iTunes, Google Play, Amazon MP3, and Spotify.
According to The Verge, the web-based version of Xbox Music will be launched next week. This will effectively extend its coverage to iOS and Android devices since the user can simply open their browser to receive full functionality. Previously, the music streaming service was only available on Microsoft’s own products, including the Xbox 360 console, Windows Phone 8 smartphones, and Windows 8 PCs and tablets. The obvious next move is to design specialized apps for iOS and Android; a development which Microsoft says is currently in progress.
In anticipation of the transition, Microsoft has already made simple updates to its Xbox Music pages, discreetly writing that it’s “now available on the web”. Early reports suggest that the Microsoft service will soon be found at the domain 'music.xbox.com'. The Verge has reportedly recieved leaked screenshots of the web version, shown below.
In addition to the new browser version, Microsoft is also updating its Xbox Music app for compatibility with Windows 8.1. Although little is known about the revamped application, the new design will reportedly feature a two-panel display, as well as support for SD cards.
It’s likely that Microsoft will use this week’s Build developer conference to provide even more details about the Xbox Music service.
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