Xbox Music takes on iTunes, Spotify

By Amelia Wade

Owners of Windows 8 tablets are able to handpick from a selection of millions of songs and stream them for free, as long as they put up with an audio ad every 15 minutes. Photo / AP
Owners of Windows 8 tablets are able to handpick from a selection of millions of songs and stream them for free, as long as they put up with an audio ad every 15 minutes. Photo / AP

As the music and technology industries invent more ways to fight internet piracy, Microsoft has released the first device that both streams and downloads songs.

From yesterday Xbox Music became available in New Zealand - touted as a hybrid between Spotify, which lets you stream music, and iTunes, where you buy it.

"You can't stream songs on iTunes, you can just listen to a preview to see if you want to buy it. And on Spotify you can stream the songs and it lets you save them on your devices so you can listen later, but the main thing is streaming, whereas the Xbox is a mixture of the two," said technology commentator Ben Gracewood.

Microsoft's device is not just for the Xbox console. It can also be used on computers, televisions and other mobile devices.

Mr Gracewood said Xbox Music would likely become the "default" music choice for those with Windows 8 and was a good option for those with android phones which didn't support iTunes.

Xbox is promising a catalogue of 30 million songs as well as internet radio and subscription services.

Mr Gracewood said a drawback seemed to be that after six months users had to start paying $12.99 a month for the service or drop down to limited access.

But that was still relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things, he said. And streaming music was one way the industry was combating piracy because it let people check out music they liked without having to pay for it.

"An unlimited monthly subscription is a good idea ... to subscribe for a year is about the cost of four CDs, which is less than I would have bought back in the day and for that price you're getting everything you need."

Xbox Music features include:

• Free streaming of music on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

• The Xbox Music Pass for ad-free, unlimited playback for $12.99 a month.

• The Xbox Music Store where you can buy a single track or an entire album.

- NZ Herald

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