Microsoft is launching Xbox Music on October 16, ahead of the Windows 8 launch on October 25 and the Windows Phone 8 launch on October 29. As previously announced, the streaming music service will support Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox 360. But for the first time, Microsoft has confirmed details about the service, such as the fact that it will have both a subscription and ad-supported model, as well as traditional music purchases.
Xbox Music on Windows 8 allows users to stream unlimited amounts of ad-supported music from Microsoft’s catalog of more than 30 million tracks. You’ll also be able to create cloud-based playlists which are synced to all of your devices, take advantage of Smart DJ, watch more than 70,000 music videos, and send playlists and songs from Windows 8 to Xbox 360 using SmartGlass. And if you lose your internet connection, Xbox Music will continue to play the tracks that it progressively downloaded to your device. These tracks, of course, will be deleted once you’re done listening.
If ads aren’t your thing, you’ll be able to pay $9.99 per month to remove them. The Xbox Music Pass subscription will also allow you to download full albums for offline playback. Of course, you can choose to purchase content individually as well. Interestingly, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360 won’t support the free ad-based model at launch, so you’ll need an Xbox Music Pass in order to listen to content. You will, however, be able to take advantage of a 30-day trial on Xbox 360. Current Zune Music Pass subscribers will be automatically transferred over to the new Xbox Music Pass.
The best features, however, are coming soon. Over the next year, Xbox Music will add “more social integration, scan-and-match functionality, and a cloud-based locker that will separate from SkyDrive.” This is actually somewhat of a relief, since SkyDrive’s free storage is limited to 7GB and goes up to 125GB. Best of all, Xbox Music will be going multi-platform, with official apps arriving on Android and iOS “within the coming year.” Eventually, you’ll be able to stream from your browser as well.
Xbox Music will be available on October 16 in more than 22 markets – 15 for Windows 8’s ad-supported streaming. Sadly, Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 won’t be getting any of these new features. They are, however, still fully compatible with Xbox Music Pass, so you can continue to use the Zune software client, Windows Phone’s Music + Video Hub, and your good old Zune device.