Sunday, September 8, 2013
Posted by Saad Hashmi at 11:05 PM —
Microsoft's Xbox Music is an excellent service, mired by early mistakes and a lack of commitment. That all changed late Sunday night, with Xbox Music adding a slew of new features and support for more platforms, about one month removed from its launch last October.
The headline feature introduced tonight is Microsoft's bold move to offer Xbox Music streaming for free via web browsers, a la Spotify. Previously, Xbox Music on the web required a subscription plan. This change means as long as you have a Microsoft Account, anyone can enjoy music streaming with a couple of ads (and limited hours) to help subsidize the cost. As of this writing the site is still asking us to sign up for Xbox Music Pass, but keep an eye on music.xbox.com over the next couple of hours.
Of course, you always have the option to upgrade to the $10 per month Xbox Music Pass, which lets subscribers listen unlimited hours ad-free and on mobile platforms. Notice we used plural, because Microsoft's other big announcement is the app's arrival on competing mobile platforms Android and iPhone (no iPad version yet). Currently the apps lack offline mode, but Microsoft is committed to adding the feature in the coming months. Download the iPhone app here and the Android app here.
Meanwhile, Xbox Music is looking to add a number of new features in the coming months, and has teased a few as part of this announcement. With the arrival of Windows 8.1 on October 18th, Xbox Music will have a new feature called Web Playlist, which scans any web page for artist names and generates a playlist featuring their music. Examples of sites where you could use this include local radio stations, music blogs, music festival pages, etc. In addition, Xbox Music is also fully integrated with Windows 8.1's new Bing Smart Search feature, which automatically creates a dynamic page full of web, news, music, and video results on any given subject (pictured below). So simply by searching Linkin Park, you'll find a page full of their Xbox Music songs, music videos, and more. Finally the service's automatic playlist feature, Radio, will be making its way over to the web app later this year.
It's taken a long time for Microsoft to finally take their Xbox Music to the next level, but they may have just done it with today's announcements. If the company can get Android and iPhone owners who also have a Windows 8 machine to switch to Xbox Music, it could be a strong first step in making people reliant on Microsoft's services again. Either way, everybody wins with these new features.
Source: Xbox Wire, App Store, Play Store