Microsoft is notorious among music fans as company which makes nothing new but copies of Apple’s iPod and iTunes. Take for example its Zune music players and service. But now Microsoft is looking for a new way of winning music lovers hearts. And this time it may be a real success!
On October 16 the company plans to announce its new all-in-one music service – Xbox Music, that will give access to to a global catalog of about 30 million songs. XBox Music will let consumers listen free to any song on computers and tablets running the latest version of its Windows software, as well as on the Xbox console, The NY Times reports.
The service includes the best features of free-streaming radio, music purchasing options and music subscription services, all in one elegant package, says Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy.
“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,” Mehdi says. “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.”
According to The New York Times, Microsoft is doing everything possible to improve its position against its competitors, especially Apple and Google. In its attempt to persuade people to use Microsoft’s products, the company will package the software for Xbox Music with Windows 8.
Microsoft News Center reports that Xbox Music will allow its users to listen to individual songs or full albums for free, create music mixes and playlists; create artist-based Internet radio stations; use Smart DJ to create playlists with unlimited skipping; and purchase the music they want to own, but only if they use Windows 8.
Microsoft looks a little bit aggresive in its push to attract consumers. Just read what Mehdi says “We’re going to power what we feel is going to be the best music experience for users of Windows 8, and it’s the only operating system on a tablet that can do free streaming because of the rights we’ve secured. It’s a great reason to buy Windows 8.”
Scott Porter, principal program manager for Xbox Music, said that many music fans to find their own stream today rely on a variety of services both new and more traditional one like iTunes. But this approach, though, can be tedious according to the manager.
“The dilemma is that music has become work,” he said. “Our vision for Xbox Music is that it shouldn’t have to be work.”
“I think what we’ve seen over the past several years is that discovering, managing and consuming music has gotten to be hard work,” Porter says. “Our aspirations for Xbox Music are big — to address the multiple ways that people are listening to music, then put those all in one easy-to-use and beautifully curated place.”
What is truly nice about XBox Music is incorporation of various options of current music services. XBox Music combines the possibility to discover new music based on artists they already like for free, and listen to unlimited music of their choice with a subscription, and even buy the songs they choose!
There is one option similar to Spotify that lets users listen free to any music from their computer, though they will get audio and visual advertisements. Like Spotify, Xbox Music offers a $10-a-month ad-free service that includes many other features, like the ability to listen to music on smartphones and the Xbox 360 game console, Microsoft News Center says.
Mark Mulligan, an independent music analyst in Britain, said Microsoft’s bundling of Xbox Music into its operating system could push digital music services further into the mainstream.
Mr. Mulligan wondered whether that bundling would attract the interest of regulators, especially in Europe, where Microsoft has tangled with antitrust enforcers for a decade. “I assume they’ve done their due diligence,” he said.
Mehdi says the excitement around Xbox and music is just beginning. The team is excited to bring a “whole new world of interactivity” to things like movies, television, games and music.
“Music is a deeply, emotionally connected topic for people everywhere — people’s memories and special moments are always associated with music,” Mehdi says. “It’s a powerful area because of that, and I’m excited that we’re going to be able to bring that to life in our product.”
Still, Microsoft, similar to Apple and Google, use software for accessing their own music services in their mobile products.