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By 16 October 2012 | Categories: news

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Microsoft has unveiled, and is set to launch, its new Xbox Music service, which will begin rolling out worldwide from today.
 
Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy, explained that the all-in-one music service combines the best aspects of free-streaming radio, music subscription services and music purchasing options, “all in one elegant package.”
 
According to Mehdi, the Xbox Music service is intended to address the current fragmentation of music provision. For example, he cited internet radio services like Pandora, streaming services like Spotify and digital music stores like iTunes and Amazon, all of which may provide music in their own way but do not do so in an integrated fashion.
 
He elaborated that, while there are a number of individual services that do a good job, at present there isn’t a service which can pull together the benefits of download-to-own, music subscription, or free streaming services.
 
One service to bind them...
 
“With Xbox Music, what we wanted to do is bring all of that value in one simple, easy-to-use service, then build some additional value on top — make it really beautiful, and have it work across all of your devices. We’ve been able to simplify the music experience in a really powerful way,” he enthused.
 
Additionally, taking into account the plethora of devices that many users may own, such as smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and notebooks, Mehdi asserted that Xbox Music will be the only all-in-one music service that enables users to listen to music in whatever way — and on whatever device — they choose.
 
He further assured that Xbox Music will “have arguably the largest music catalogue of all music services”, with 30 million songs, as well as offer an as yet not detailed  “fantastic” way of discovering new music.
 
Music, anywhere and everywhere
 
The company explained that Xbox Music, which comes pre-installed and is the default music player for the new Windows 8 operating system, will feature free, ad-supported streaming of the entire catalogue on PCs, smartphones and  tablets, as long as users have an internet connection. Users can also make playlists, discover new music, and purchase and download music.
 
While users will be able to use their Xbox 360 to take advantage of Xbox Music, they will also be able to listen to individual songs or full albums for free on their Windows 8-based tablet and PC. Either way, users will be able to create music mixes and playlists; create artist-based internet radio stations; use Smart DJ to create playlists with unlimited skipping; and purchase the music they want to own.
 
Purchasing an Xbox Music Pass for $10 (R84) a month will further allow users to take that music to the cloud, letting them enjoy the collection they’ve curated on other devices such as Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360.
 
“All they’ll need to do is sign in, and they’ll instantly have all of their content on that device, including access to the playlists they’ve built,” explained Scott Porter, the principal program manager for Microsoft’s Xbox Music.
 
“When creating Xbox Music, we started off with a simple principle — music should never be work. That’s why we’ve put it all together to create, basically, a one-stop-shop,” Porter continued. “It’s a really nice marriage between unlimited listening, the cloud and your personal collection. We hope users out there will see that we’ve put together the world’s entire catalogue that they can easily integrate with what they already own — they can very quickly simplify their digital music life.”
 
To the point
 
“We’re going to power what we feel is going to be the best music experience for users of Windows 8, and it’s the only operating system on a tablet that can do free streaming because of the rights we’ve secured,” Mehdi says. “It’s a great reason to buy Windows 8,” he concluded.
 
Microsoft’s Xbox Music service is certainly intended to pose a challenge to Apple's iTunes store, as well, perhaps, as other streaming services that have a similar, ad-supported vision of supplying music en masse.

It’s certainly a bold initiative, and one that answers our question about how the company intends luring Windows 7 users to upgrade to the forthcoming new iteration of the operating system. 

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