Microsoft introduces Xbox Music


October 15, 2012

Has Microsoft finally found the formula to beat iTunes?

Has Microsoft finally found the formula to beat iTunes?

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As big companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft each compete to gain supremacy in the “Post-PC” era, a killer ecosystem is thought key to keeping users locked in to one particular platform. While we can grant Microsoft’s gaming and business pedigree, its music services have been lacking thus far, and to address this, the Redmond company is launching a new music streaming service dubbed “Xbox Music,” which will be available from Tuesday October 16 on Xbox 360, with further platforms gaining support soon.

The cloud-based Xbox Music service boasts a 30 million-song catalog, compared to Amazon’s Cloud Player and Apple’s iTunes Match, which each contain somewhere in the region of 20 million. Though music is primarily streamed, there’s also a store for users to purchase their favorite songs, and Microsoft plans to eventually offer a “scan and match” feature which scans your existing music collection to make it available in the cloud—something which seems to closely resemble the service currently offered by iTunes Match.

Microsoft hopes Xbox Music will offer a more cohesive experience, when compared to using multiple services like Spotify and iTunes

“There are a lot of individual services that do a good job, but today there isn’t a service which can pull together the benefits of download-to-own, music subscription, or free streaming services,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy. “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.”

Initially, Xbox Music will be available on Xbox 360 only, from October 16 at a price of US$9.99 per month. Though we've seen reports that an Xbox Live Gold subscription is required, we're yet to hear this from the horse's mouth. Xbox Music will also come pre-installed as the default music player on Windows 8, released October 26, for both PCs and tablets, and this latter version sports the option of listening for free, with occasional advertisements interrupting the music.

Microsoft also plans to offer the service on Windows Phone 8. An interesting footnote is the news that Android and iOS-compatible Xbox Music apps will eventually come too, which is a necessary move if Microsoft hopes to wrench away from popular platform-agnostic services such as Spotify.

The promo video below sheds some further light on the new service.

Source: Microsoft

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

To me this is hilarious. Does nobody listen to radio anymore? Or else, maybe this means that radio has become so overcommercialized that people cannot stomach it anymore. Maybe there is opportunity to simply improve radio? For example, I listen to CKUA radio in Alberta, it is a very remarkable station, but part of its appeal is that they substitute fundraising for most commercials, and what commercials there are, are more of a public service than generating business. Even when I lived out of province I listened to CKUA over the internet. I never had an urge even to buy an iPod, or satellite radio subscription, etc. Anyway, playing music out of Xbox seems like a gigantic waste of effort and money compared to simply tuning in to a quality station. I might be out of date, however.


The online music wars are definitely providing fodder for the media juggernaut. We're witnesses to a seismic shift in how music is both perceived and delivered ever since the Napster reared its (some might say) ugly head. I actually thought it was kinda cute.

If XBOX enjoys just some of the organic traction it achieved in the gaming arena with XBLA then Apple minus Steve Jobs might actually start to feel some tremors if they haven't already.

Lola Grace

What's radio?

Alan Belardinelli

For that money I'd go sirius and just download commercial free for later playback of just the music I want.

I buy old records, CD's even damaged ones for the music rights and make my own collection for pennies/song instead of the outragous $1/song you pay on most of these services.


Xbox Live Gold subscription is also required for use of the Internet Explorer that's included in this fall software update for the Xbox 360.

Flipider Comm

I'M CONFUSED. If I don't care about streaming music, Is this really any better than iTunes on my iPhone/iPad? What does Xbox have to do with music? Do I somehow need Xbox hardware to access the music? Why would I want anything connected with Xbox? I don't play computer games (they were a waste of time in the '70s and they still are).

I'm not even sure I want to know what a Gold Subscription is. Just when I was starting to think Microsoft was becoming less annoying, they go and mess it all up again. - PSC

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