Microsoft is launching its Xbox Music service far earlier than anticipated
. The cross-platform music service will roll out onto Xbox 360 consoles from tomorrow, with Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8 receiving it on the 26th. Despite the multi-platform nature of the service, it will not appear on Windows 7 or handsets running earlier versions of Windows Phone.
Accompanying the Xbox 360 Dashboard update tomorrow, Xbox Music
will allow users to listen to streaming songs at $10 per month, or on Windows 8, for no charge as part of an ad-supported service. Individual songs can be bought and played, with DRM-free files encoded at 256kbps, higher than the 192kbps WMA files being streamed. Current subscribers to the Zune service will be able to carry over their subscription to the Xbox Music service, while new users can try out the service through a free 30-day trial.
Windows Phone and Windows 7 users will be able to continue using the Zune Music service, and will have the same catalog of content to use. Speaking to The Verge
, Jerry Johnson of Xbox Music confirmed legacy users in Windows 7 will still have access to the old Zune client, and any purchased content will carry over to the Xbox Music service, however the app will not be updated to reflect the new name and service structure as of yet. "It's a very different feature set, but you'll have access to the same content" he said of the Zune client, adding that the Windows Phone 7 client will not be updated either, except possibly for an "iconography upgrade."
Cloud-synching of playlists and the free streaming found in Windows 8 will not carry over to Windows 7 nor Windows Phone. A Cloud Storage component will be added next year, complete with a Scan-and-Match facility for pre-owned music, though this also will only be usable for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox 360 owners. Support for Android and iOS will be "within the coming year."