Microsoft may surprise music fans with October launch
Microsoft took a lot of the sizzle out of its scheduled product launches in October by announcing the products months before consumers could get their hands on primetime versions of them. However, Redmond may be playing a surprise card when it rolls out Windows 8 and its Surface tablets at midnight on October 26.
That surprise card is a new music service tied to Microsoft's gaming platform, Xbox. While Microsoft has confirmed that it has a music service in the works called Xbox Music to replace its old Zune Music Pass, the company has been less than forthcoming with details about the new service.
Following reports last week that Xbox Music will debut with other new products on October 26, Microsoft pushed out to the press a statement long on enthusiasm and short in detail. It said:
“We’re not commenting on speculation around Xbox Music. What we can say is we’re excited for Xbox Music as our definitive music service. It’ll bring great new ways to enjoy, share and discover new music on all your Windows 8 devices, Xbox 360 console, and Windows Phone 8. We’ll let you know when we have more information to share."
Despite Microsoft's attempts to keep a lid on information about the new music service, unconfirmed tidbits keep surfacing. For example, The Verge, citing sources familiar with Microsoft's plans for the service, said Xbox Music would have both a paid and free component.
The service will run on all Microsoft devices, the report says, and eventually, on Android and iOS hardware, although that won't be the case at its initial release.
Xbox Music will reportedly be supported in the new dashboard for Microsoft's gaming console, as well as in updates to music and video apps for Windows 8. Integration with Microsoft's cloud storage service SkyDrive, for storage of music and playlists, are also be an important component of the new service, according to the report.
News that Xbox Music will contain a free component similar to Spotify complement reports that Microsoft is engaged in negotiations to acquire Internet music provider Rdio. Rdio is a competitor of Spotify that offers a paid streaming music service.
Neither Microsoft nor Rdio is commenting about any potential deal. The acquisition, though, would make sense for both companies. Rdio could use Microsoft's resources to be more competitive against Spotify. Microsoft could use Rdio to further its plans to make Xbox Music a cross-platform agnostic service.
Meanwhile, on the paid side of things, last month a "leaked" subscription screen allegedly for Xbox Music appeared on the Internet. It shows that the service can be tried free for 30 days, with a month's use priced at $9.99 and an annual subscriptions at $99.90.