Microsoft introduces Xbox music for Windows 8: a true iTunes competitor?

xmusic-logoXbox music, Microsoft's answer to iTunes, has been announced ahead of Microsoft's upcoming launches of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and its intriguing Surface tablets. The iTunes, Spotify, Rdio and Google Play music competitor will be available on Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 PCs and Microsoft's gaming console, Xbox 360. Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems will also be able to access the service later next year.

What has always held competing music services back when trying to challenge Apple's iTunes has been a lack of content. With 30 million tracks on offer when Xbox music launches, studio content at least should not be a problem. Thirty million tracks is close to what iTunes has on offer now.

There are three different ways users can access Xbox music: stream music for free as long as you're happy listening to the occasional ad; subscribe to an ad free version for US$10 a month; or like iTunes and Google music, you can buy DRM free physical albums and songs that you can download onto your devices to keep. A smart DJ is included (like Apple's Genius Mixes) and Cloud storage options will be available in the near future.

The free streaming option and subscription services give Xbox music clear advantages over iTunes.

"Xbox has become the entertainment brand for Microsoft," said Scott Porter, a principal program manager at Microsoft at the launch. "Music is a key part of that strategy."

There are multiple ways to access your favourite albums and artists, with iTunes far and away the most popular. We'll have to wait and see if Xbox music will be heard in a crowded musical field.

Xbox music is already available on Microsoft's gaming console, Xbox 360, and will reach Windows 8 PCs and Windows 8 tablets 26 October. 



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