Microsoft announces Xbox Music iTunes competitor, coming to PC, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Android and iOS devices

Microsoft has launched a new music service which it hopes will offer significant competition to Apple’s hugely successful iTunes service. The new Microsoft music offering will be called Xbox Music and will debut on its own Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices initially but will also be rolled out for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch a well as certain Android devices too; very soon afterwards. The news comes from Gigaom who managed to speak with Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music.

But the biggest story to me is that Xbox Music will embrace Android and iOS. Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music, wasn’t able to tell me exactly when the apps for those two platforms are going to come out, but the sense that I took away from the briefing was that his team is working on making it happen sooner rather than later. Xbox Music on Android and iOS will look very much like Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8, which itself in many ways follows the style formerly known as Metro.So why is this big news? Because Microsoft’s past attempts of getting into the music space were much more territorial. The company completely reinvented its DRM for Zune Music, making sure that Zune downloads wouldn’t play on anyone’s hardware but Microsoft’s – a move that irked countless hardware partners who had gotten their devices certified for Microsoft’s previous music format.

The Xbox Music service will launch initially on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360 only and will come in two flavors. The first will be ad-supported and offered as a free service solely for playback on Windows 8 machines. The premium version will cost $10 a month and will be usable on additional platforms such as the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 8 phones. Microsoft will also offer a digital download store and a paid cloud music storage service which will supposedly offer an iTunes Match type experience too.

There is no doubt that Microsoft has the power to build something to rival iTunes however past attempts have never been that great. The Zune hardware and software was always hindered by its lack of international availability and it remains to be seen if this service will roll out internationally either. It has often been rumored that Apple would roll out some kind of iTunes subscription service but it has never materialized, maybe this could be the thing to give it a push.

Source: Gigaom

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

  • "competitor" should be in quotes.
  • I think to compete your product will have to be viable... Microsoft has not had a viable product since 2007.
  • I´m sure you mean 2010, when the Kinect entered the Guinness Book outselling the iPad, or 2009 when Windows 7 was launched, you know, the one with more than 400 million users.
  • But... But... Apple has 70 percent of profits in the mobile space!
  • Yes I am know tons of people who went out and bought a new laptop because it had windows 7 on it... oh wait...
  • This is why Microsoft is so ass backwards in everything they do. This is supposed to be a seious competitor to iTunes. Yes it is called XBox Music, why? who decided on that dumb name? If it's a music service why tie it to the XBox name especially when it will be on WP, iOS and the Android platform? A name like iTunes is so universal it hints at it's roots with the "i" you know it's from Apple but it's Tunes which means it handles your tunes and now all your media. So why not call the thing Microsoft Music or Microsoft Median Manager ofcourse those names are ungodly long so you want something shorter, catchier but the point is why put XBox in the name? what does it have to do with anything?
  • It's actually genius they use the Xbox name in my opinion. Xbox is universal. It has become a media center in the living room of many families. So many families have an Xbox and it was not only till recently I have used it as a media center. The xbox acts as a media center more than a gaming console in my home. It only makes sense to tie anything media to the xbox name. This builds interest in the xbox name and slowly rebrands it as a media center which will catch the interest of non-gamers.
  • My thoughts exactly
  • yes! call it " xTunes" duuhhhh
  • it's on an xbox. and you may not think xbox is a big name but huge numbers of people worldwide have an xbox, it's got huge brand recognition. i get your point. you want some sort of uniformity but the reality is is names like windows, microsoft, even zune are not "cool" and appealing like xbox is.
  • One advantage Microsoft could have is if they can create a windows app for XBox Music that beats iTunes on Windows. The bar is pretty low in that respect.
  • The real question...will it PlaysForSure? [ ]
  • i still wonder exactly what this service entails. Can i upload my own music like google? How much storage? I have mixtape albums so will it have gapless playback? If it has a matching service is it only stuff i bought from microsoft which is useless for my needs like itunes match as i've bought nothing from either? Can i access webfiles on all my devices? Is it streaming radio only like a pandora sort of thing? If there's a software will it just been the zune stuff? Will it be really complicated or bloated? some of the current stuff from microsoft strikes me as really bloated. (apple too actually). Is it sort of like google play where it's an online store to buy all kinds of things like books, movies and music etc?