Microsoft’s revamped music service, Xbox Music, will go live from 16 October along with a Dashboard update for the Xbox 360. As the name suggests, it will debut on the games console but it will also be pre-installed on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 hardware, including tablets, from 26 October.
The service is a hybrid of a pick-what-you-want online store like iTunes, all-you-can-eat streaming like Spotify and internet radio-style discovery options.
On Windows 8 there will be a free-to-use, ad-supported streaming version (in 15 countries from launch) or a monthly Music Pass subscription plan for unlimited ad-free listening and an offline playback feature.
As revealed recently, the monthly price is £8.99 (or a rather better value $9.99 if you’re in the US). This will launch in 22 countries at first. There is a 30-day free trial for new users.
The streaming format is 192kbps WMA. With the Xbox Music Store you can download 256kbps DRM-free MP3s from a catalogue said to total around 30 million tracks.
Xbox 360 users will be able to choose from about 70,000 music videos along with the Music Pass package, though there are hints that Microsoft may extend music video availability to Windows 8 too.
According to The Verge, additional features will become available in 2013, such as “more social integration, a scan-and-match functionality, and a cloud-based locker that will separate from SkyDrive.”
The new service will reportedly not be available on Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7 (on those systems the service will retain its old Zune branding), though apps for iOS and Android may be released in the coming months.