Back in 2006, Microsoft released its answer to Apple’s iPod in the form of its Zune digital media player. The device was a small, brick-sized like gadget that I think actually looked pretty cool. With it, Microsoft offered the Zune Music Pass which allowed you unlimited downloads to licensed music that could be synced with up to 3 additional devices. It also allowed you to keep a limited amount of songs (DRM-Free) at the end of the month.
Fast forward and for arguably, the second time, Microsoft has officially declared the Zune as dead. Although Zune is no more, it still lives on within Microsoft’s Xbox 360 platform which has given Microsoft a huge stake in the gaming industry. After announcing the demise of Zune at E3 2012,Microsoft provided a glimmer of hope for Zune fans letting them know that the music service associated with the media player would be transitioning over to Xbox in the form of Xbox Music. What do you think about the originality of the name?
What’s the service going to be like, you say? Well, according to Microsoft, the Xbox Music service will provide you with access to over 30 million tracks that can be streamed or downloaded to any Windows device: Windows Phone, Windows 8 tablet, PC, and Xbox 360. For those that still need to manage their purchased content for their Zune player and other connected devices, the Zune Video Marketplace and the Zune Music Marketplace will still be available on Xbox 360 although it’s not clear how long the name or content will remain the same. Users will need to have their Xbox Live Gold subscription handy for continued access.
Taking a quick look at the Xbox Music service, it seems that there is an integration with the tiled, Metro interface that Microsoft has integrated into it’s new software offerings. The Zune Smart DJ feature remains, and I really got a kick out of the description from the website. A “quick and dynamic way to launch instant mixes in the Zune + Video software based on any album, artist, or song in similar songs from your collection and suggest songs from the Zune Marketplace catalog.” I tried to read that all in one breath!
Although the release date for Xbox Music service has not been revealed, I’m sure we can expect to see it with the big update Microsoft usually provides to its customers around the end of the year. If you’re still a fan of Zune and want to keep up with the latest information on the music and where things are headed, go to www.zune.net.