October is a big month for Microsoft. Redmond has a new operating system on the horizon, new Windows phones to launch, Surface tablets to sell, and a new Xbox dashboard update to push out. Amid all the hoopla, let’s not forget about little ol’ Xbox Music, Microsoft’s rebrand of Zune. Set to officially launch on October 26th, Xbox Music will offer free ad-supported music streaming, among other things.
If you’re not already a Zune subscriber, you can equate the new Xbox Music service to Spotify or LastFM. You’ll be able to stream music on your Windows 8 PC, Xbox and Windows Phone. There’s a free ad-supported option, or if you want music ad free, pricing appears to be the same as the current Zune subscription of $10 a month.
But that’s not all, folks. In addition to streaming the millions of songs available on Xbox Music, the new service will also allow users to store, access and stream from SkyDrive. Want to listen to those scratchy digital copies that you made of your BeeGees LP collection? Upload all of it to SkyDrive and you can listen on your PC, phone, tablet or console from anywhere via Xbox Music. Microsoft offers 7 gigs of free Skydrive storage.
I’m currently a Zune subscriber, and I think this is a nice feature. I rarely store music on my phone anymore because I’ve gotten used to just streaming playlists on demand. But there are notable gaps in the music selection that Zune has available to stream. It’s a nice addition to be able to add my own music to the mix from Skydrive.
The new Xbox Music will require updates to the Xbox dashboard and Windows 8, all scheduled for the late October launch. It’s unclear if the SkyDrive portion of the service will be available on existing Windows Phones after the 7.8 update or if this is just a Windows Phone 8 feature. Xbox Music should also be available eventually on iOS and Android as well, but release dates haven’t been announced.
For now, mark October 26th on your calendars when Microsoft plans to bring Xbox Music to the masses.