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5 things to know about Xbox Music

Microsoft’s new music streaming service is getting ready to go live

Microsoft’s Xbox Music

After (finally) pulling the plug on development for its Zune music service, Microsoft went back to the drawing board and is ready to throw its hat back in the music industry ring (Do I have enough euphemisms in there?)

The good news is that, despite their earlier failures, the company seems to have come out with a decent product tied to a stellar brand name.

Translation: this crazy idea just might work.

Here are 5 things YOU should know about it before it goes live at the end of the month.

1. It’s a free music streaming service for your Windows 8 computer or tablet.

Xbox Music will play on all Windows devices

There are ads, though, so it’s kind of like Pandora / Spotify in that sense. The difference is that the music being streamed gets capped at 192 kbps WMA. Spotify, for example, offers 320 kbps. Music that gets purchased and downloaded, however, is better quality: 256 kbps MP3 and DRM-free.

Most listeners out there won’t notice the difference in these numbers, especially if you’re listening to it on one of our portable speakers; that is, in an environment where you’re on the go and there’s other background noice. But these are numbers that should be improved and likely will come the next update for the service.

2. You’ll have to pay for it if . . .

Xbox Music pass

You want to use it on your Windows 8 phone (arrives 10/29) and / or Xbox 360. If this is the case, it’ll require an Xbox Music pass, which’ll run you $10 a month.

The good news, though: the Music Pass means you can listen to all the music you want sans advertisements.

3. There are some missing pieces

Samsung Galaxy Note

The service will have no social metrics tied to it at first, so (thankfully) you won’t be able to tell your friends on Facebook or Twitter what you just listened to without actually physically typing in the message (Heaven forbid!) Also, support for iOS and Android devices isn’t expected to come around till 2013.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there’s no way to upload and share songs between devices if the Xbox Music program can’t match it (e.g.—transferring music from an iPod to Xbox Music).

According to the company, they plan to have all these issues fixed by 2013.

4. There are 30 millions songs available

Xbox Music song selection

Hear a song. Like it. Buy it. Keep it forever.

Don’t know what else to say about it other than “DAMN! That be a lot of music to choose from.”

5. Microsoft has baked Xbox Music into ALL copies of Windows 8 (arrives 10/26)

Windows 8

That means FREEEEEEEEEEEEE and simple access to the aforementioned 30 million songs as part of Windows 8.

Did you hear that?

That was Pandora, Spotify, and Last.fm collectively gasping at the realization that the last version of Windows sold 240 million copies in its first year (for the sake of including a point of reference, Spotify has an official count of 15 million users).

Over / under that we’ll see at least three of these music streaming sites sold in the next 12 months.

Do I have any takers?

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