Xbox Music Service Unveiled: What’s New, What’s Missing

Microsoft just kicked Zune to the curb with the unveiling of Xbox Music, a new multiplatform $9.99 monthly digital music service launched today on the Xbox 360. It’s also coming to the bevy of incoming Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 devices as soon as they launch. Own a Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7 device? You’re out of luck.

Xbox Music mixes Spotify’s streaming offering with iTunes-esque digital downloads and boasts one of the largest collections of songs in the United States at 18 million tunes strong. On-demand listening, customizable playlists, a “Smart DJ” dynamic radio option: it’s all there, and it all seamlessly syncs between your various new-generation Microsoft devices.

Tablet and PC listeners can listen to an unlimited amount of free, ad-supported songs for six months, after which your listening time is restricted to an as-yet-undisclosed number of hours. Ponying up $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year drops the ads and the listening restrictions. A paid subscription is required to listen from a Windows Phone 8 handset or an Xbox 360.

The game console also has access to 70,000 music videos, which you won’t find on the Windows-based devices. Xbox Music program manager Scott Porter told the New York Times that Android and iOS apps should pop up sometime next year, as well.

Current Windows users will be left out in the cold, however. Microsoft told The Verge that Xbox Music won’t be coming to Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7; instead, owners of current Windows software who want to groove to the beat will need to stick to the Zune service, which will see token legacy support. That’s just one more carrot Microsoft’s holding out in its quest to convince Windows 7 owners to upgrade to Windows 8 on October 26th.

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