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Microsoft's Music Service Will Rival Spotify, Apple

Additional details have surfaced regarding Microsoft's Xbox Music service, shedding some light on Microsoft's post-Zune attempt. It was briefly announced last month during E3 2012, reportedly without having any deals set in place with the four major record labels. There was also no information provided as to how it will work, and when it will be launched.

But sources now claim the Redmond company is currently in talks with Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and EMI to secure the needed rights to launch a music service by the end of the year. Without all four on-board, Microsoft will risk launching a service that has fewer artists than its failed Zune platform, they said.

Microsoft is essentially starting over after its attempt with Zune. However this time the company wants to provide a product that lets customers consume music any way they want. Microsoft will reportedly close Zune and move all users over to "Xbox Music" on an unspecified date.

Despite the Xbox label, the music service will reportedly be tied to Windows 8. This isn't surprising given that the operating system, unlike Windows 7, will span across multiple form factors. Windows Phone 8 will share the same core as reportedly will the next Xbox console, slated for an E3 2013 showing (speculation). A web-based storefront and additional apps will likely be offered for other platforms.

With Xbox Music, Microsoft wants to address consumers on several fronts. By taking the Spotify approach, Microsoft will offer subscription-based music consumption on a monthly or yearly basis. By taking the Apple approach, they'll be able to purchase and stream the music they want. Additionally, Microsoft supposedly wants to provide a virtual locker service that allows users to store external purchases (from Amazon, Apple, Google etc) for a monthly or annual fee.

Sources claim Microsoft is in the early stages of negotiations, and may end up not receiving all the rights it's currently seeking. But if Microsoft does land deals with all four labels, Microsoft may simply choose to roll out Xbox Music features over time instead of launching the service as one package.

During Microsoft's E3 2012 keynote, Microsoft said Xbox Music would provide a library of more than 30 million tracks for the PC, Windows 8 tablet, Windows Phone and the Xbox 360. Despite the Metro interface, it came across as a Zune re-brand, underwhelming trade show attendees.

  • Onus
    Didn't they try something like this with Zune and fail miserably?
  • dameon51
    not again...
  • cscott_it
    I actually kind of liked Microsoft's previous attempt, mostly because you got unlimited streaming and you got to keep a certain number of downloaded songs (I think 5 or 10 a month). They tried to combine iTunes and Rhapsody.

    To be honest, I'd like to see more players in this market and to see those players offer better features to diversify one another so that each option is a compelling buy, rather than there being forced to choose a single device because it offers a better consumption library.

    Like, if Google Play or Apple Store offered a similar service (pay $15/mo) and you'd get like a $5 app/movie/etc. credit a month. Or something....
  • classzero
    I knew they wouldn't kill the zune, just rename it like they did with vista.
  • syrious1
    Zune software is fine(in regards to syncing and playing music), sure the service sucks, but honestly who actually uses the artist suggestions? and who the hell would want to pay to store music in the cloud? just download it to your phone and quit wasting your data.
  • Anyone else getting really sick of Microsoft trying to invent cool?
  • IAmVortigaunt
    Still have Zune pass, works great.
  • IAmVortigaunt
    syrious1Zune software is fine(in regards to syncing and playing music), sure the service suckscitation]
    Based on what? The service works pretty well, actually. Zune players were pretty good, too. Just never caught on.
  • eddieroolz
    There seems to be a lot of bold claims in favor of Microsoft lately. I wonder if they're onto something.
  • keither5150
    I have had zune pass since November. It works great. Try sharing 1 iTunes account across 3 HTPC's..... yeah good luck with that. I have about 400 albums downloaded so far with about 30 different playlists. The only thing that Microsoft lacks is the ability to market a product well. Zune pass is superior to iTunes in every way. You can purchase the music if you wish, for less money than iTunes. Media center is another one. Great software, but the idiots couldn't market winter boots in the artic. The surface will most likely be a great product but could fail due to less than stellar marketing. Windows 8 shows no improvements that interest me....... Having to pay extra for media center, without a strong marketing campaign, doesn't seem too smart. Instead of bleeding the few people that use it, why not try to entice more people to use it. Paying for something that used to be free is already a hard pill to swallow.