Today, Microsoft officially announced that Xbox Music, the long-awaited replacement for Zune, will launch on Xbox 360 Tuesday, October 16th. Clearly intended to take a slice out of services like iTunes and Spotify, Xbox Music will only be available as a subscription based service on the console.
"The launch of Xbox Music is a milestone in simplifying digital music on every type of device and on a global scale," said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "We're breaking down the walls that fracture your music experiences today to ensure that music is better and integrated across the screens that you care about most - your tablet, PC, phone and TV."
When Xbox Music launches current Zune Pass holders (now Xbox Music Pass) will be the first with access, everyone else interested will need to cough up $9.99 per month or $99 per year and also have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. A 30-day free trial will be available when the service first hits, but after that it's going to cost you.
While the Xbox Music Pass offers 18 million streaming tracks here the U.S., the service will also include an MP3 store that allows users to buy individual tracks. Once a song is purchased it will available on your other Microsoft devices – Windows 8 PCs and tablets, along with Windows Phone 8 handsets – when those products hit retail. Your Music Pass subscription will also allow you to stream to these devices.
Honestly, Xbox Music already sounds like a mess. Sure, the subscription gets you unlimited, ad-free music, but why would I pay Microsoft to listen to music on my console when I could just head over to Pandora on my PC and listen for free while I play a game? What do you think? Is this going to be the end-all-be-all music service Microsoft hopes it will be, or do we just have another Zune on our hands?