Xbox Music release date is finally here. But it ensured that Zune is finally scrapped and done away with
In the end, Zune was a well thought out, reliable and quite sleek service. Its only fault was that it had come a little late. By the time the Zune HD launched – with the radical new big font interface which was later adapted into Windows Phone UI – Apple had already corralled off most of the market. The Zune hardware was subsequently discontinued, the service however lived on in Windows Phone.
Now Microsoft has decided to say goodbye to Zune, and consign it to history. It will replace it with Xbox Music which will become available on Windows 8 devices after the launch of Windows 8. It will be available on Xbox from Tuesday. The Xbox Music has over 30 million individual tracks – more than iTunes which has over 26 million. There are also over 70,000 music videos which are at present only available to Xbox users.
There will be three different offerings. One free version and two paid. The free version which will allow users to stream music directly from the cloud, will be ad supported, with ads appearing every 15 minutes. Apart from that, there will be an Xbox Music Pass subscription for $9.99 a month or $99.99 annually, which will allow users to stream unlimited music without the incumbrance of ads.
There will also be an ‘mp3 download to own’ store. “Within a year we’ll be launching an iOS and Android client, so it’s not just on Windows phones,” Xbox Music GM Jerry Johnson said. The service is set to launch on Windows Phones after the 29th, when Windows Phones officially launch with the new Windows Phone 8 software. Though phones will not have the free streaming option on the paid Pass.
The move is really a fight to dominate the living room space. Both Apple and Microsoft offers services that can be a replacement for the TV. In Microsoft’s case, the Xbox is the key device. The Xbox already streams Netflix movies, and other channels. Around 18 months ago the company realized that users were using the Xbox more for non-gaming activity – nearly 60% of the time – and entertainment services. It accordingly started beefing up its entertainment options.
“We also realise, as an entertainment company, that music is an important ingredient on its own and as a part of different user experiences,” Xbox Music general manager Jerry Johnson said. The service is tied to Microsoft’s cloud strategy, which is similar to iCould and Google Play. The service will launch in 22 countries.
Microsoft is also planning other types of offerings. “There will be an on-demand video store launching,” added Johnson, “and Xbox movies will be part of the offer,” Johnson said.