Back in June, Microsoft revealed that Xbox Music would be the new music service for the Xbox 360, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8 and late last night that transition was officially announced with updates to Xbox consoles starting tomorrow. You will be able to experience free, ad-supported, streaming Xbox Music on Windows 8 and Windows RT computers starting on 26 October.
To get offline song access, access on your Windows Phone 8 device, and ad-free music on your other Microsoft devices you will need the $9.99/month Xbox Music Pass. You can also purchase individual, DRM-free songs on the Music Store just like you can with the Zune store now.
If you have been reading my blog, then you know I have been searching for a single music service to meet all of my needs and Xbox Music turns out to be the one. While Xbox Music Pass is launching on Microsoft products, they also stated they will be bringing it to other platforms in the next year. In addition to the Xbox Music streaming and offline options, early in 2013 Microsoft plans to offer a scan-and-match feature and social aspects of the service. So it looks like Xbox Music will truly be the one I have been looking for with streaming music, offline music, radio functionality through Smart DJ, cloud storage and match, and a music store for individual tracks. Microsoft is going beyond what Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, and others have done. Samsung has a similar service, but they limit it to just their devices at this time.
Existing Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 owners will NOT get a Xbox Music update, but the existing Zune Pass and application will work just fine. My Zune Pass is getting ready to renew and I am going to continue it since I get 10 free songs a month to keep as well and will continue to build up my personal library. If you own a Nokia Windows Phone, then don't forget you can get free streaming and offline music through Nokia Music as well so you may want to even skip paying for Xbox Music.