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The Xbox Music; hit or miss?

Xbox Music

Xbox MusicLet’s be frank, Zune from Microsoft is a horribly implemented joke; The Simpsons had a kick out of it just last week. Despite the ton of good press earned by many Zune products, it gained the reputation of being the “copy cat product no one actually wants”. Microsoft has decided to terminate the failed product and service all together and decided to replace it with the Xbox Music. The launch of the new service is set to be on Tuesday on Xbox 360 before landing on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices later this month once Microsoft’s new operating system is released.

Here’s a little more inside to the new service:

Xbox Music & Zune are not the same, but the former is a chip of the latter:
The new product shares the 30-million catalog of music and videos from the still-on going Zune service.

Here are some of the main features to look out for in the new Xbox Music:
1. Smart DJ: a swift and dynamic method to achieve a more personalized artist-based internet radio, discover new favorites and create ultimate playlists through launching instant mixes based on your preferences.

2. Xbox Music Pass: an unlimited access (including offline access that is) to the songs and artists of your choice is dropping from the $15 a month at Zune to a $10 a month. Yet, the “get 10 free songs per month to own forever” part is gone forever.

3. Xbox Music Store: a marketplace that is said to give you the chance to purchase either a single track or entire albums, just as you can do on iTunes or other popular music stores. Costs shall be comprehensive with the major stores, with most tracks costing $1.29 with discounts of whole albums. The store will be available in the same 22 markets as the Xbox Music Pass service.

4. Exclusivity: Xbox Music shall be the default music app appearing prominently on every Windows 8 PC Start screen. It’s certainly a Modern UI app, meaning it does not run on the traditional desktop and is exclusively built for touch. Meaning it is available for Windows 8, Windows RT tablet/ PC, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox of course. Microsoft promised that iOS & Android versions’ timeframe is “within the first year”, though support for other systems is a little hazy.

5. Social integration: if you’ve caught the social bug and crave immediate integration with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, to name but the major, well then you’ll have to hold on a bit. At launch, Xbox Music will be “anti-social”, with no direct integration with any social networks what so ever. However, you can always use the Share Charm on Windows 8.

6. Cloud Storage: This feature is set to be available by next year, as well as a scan-and-match feature; giving you the ability to scan your local system for music files that you own, match them to the store, and then mark them as “owned” for streaming to other devices (as long as they’re available as stream-able songs in the service). This is quite reminiscing of the iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player.

To further explain this feature; if you’re using a Windows 8 PC, then Scan & Match will find all the music in your “My Music” folder, which includes DRM-free iTunes AAC files, which the software can play quite well. From then on, you can see all those files on your other devices and choose to stream or download them. On the Xbox however, your only option would be to stream, yet almost all your music will be available.

To wrap things up, if Microsoft truly intends to make a smash hit out of the Xbox Music, it ought to enable broad support outside its own ecosystem; thinking outside computers and mobile devices reaching out to media-streaming products and so on. If Microsoft does continue to add value to the new Xbox Music while also amplifying its reach, then this music service will soon turn up to be the one to beat.

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