Some of our readers may remember a not-so-distant past when music podcasts were all the rage. Eventually compelling services like Pandora and Spotify took over, enabling music lovers to discover new artists and personalize their listening routine. So when Microsoft announced Xbox Music at E3 2012 — and it appeared to be just another Pandora clone — many weren’t exactly thrilled. As it turns out, though, Xbox Music is going to be one to watch in the digital music space.
Xbox Music launches tomorrow on the 360 alongside the new dashboard update, and it brings with it a triple threat of music services.
Microsoft will have a streaming online radio service, presumably adaptable and customizable like Pandora. Xbox Music will also feature an ad-supported or subscription based “all you can stream” on-demand service similar to Spotify. Finally, it will give users the option of purchasing music in a 256k DRM-free MP3 format.
In other words, it looks to fuse together the best aspects of three separate services currently on my myriad of devices: iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify.
Adding to the appeal of Xbox Music is the fact that it will also launch on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, with iOS and Android versions coming at a later date. If Microsoft can deliver a pleasant user experience, a robust library (which they did have for their Zune music initiative), and the ability to sync the service cross-platform, Xbox Music might find the success that Zune didn’t.
There’s only one downside: the service won’t be available on Windows 7 or previous operating systems.