Xbox Music Service Launching October 26th, Will Offer Free Streaming Option

As we inch closer to the Windows 8 launch, taking place on October 26th, it's becoming ever-more clear that Microsoft has one seriously ambitious day on its hands. Not even taking into account the fact that Windows 8 is a major shift for Microsoft's OS, the company and its legion of partners will be unveiling the first-ever consumer Windows tablets - and I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering how those will fare next to the iOS and Android models that currently dominate the market.

Clearly a sign of the company not having enough on its plate already, rumor has it that Microsoft is set to launch "Xbox Music" on the same day as the Windows 8 launch. As it sounds, this looks to be a music service to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft's failed Zune platform. In recent years, Microsoft has had clear intention of sticking with the brands it's best known for, so with its "Xbox Music" name, it's bound to capture the attention of many.

Xbox 360 - Soon to offer a compelling music solution

Similar to the Zune Marketplace's options, users will be able to opt for paid subscriptions or go the free route and listen to their music with the occasional ad tossed in. At this point, details are very scarce, so what the subscriptions will offer and cost is left totally up to the imagination for now. Xbox Music is also set to support Microsoft's storage service SkyDrive, however, so it seems likely that the subscriptions would include some space in the cloud.

With previous services, including Zune, Microsoft has become notorious for not supporting competitive platforms, but that won't be the case with Xbox Music. Instead, you'll be able to access the service not only on your Xbox 360, Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 device, but also your Android and iOS devices as well - although those competitive latter versions won't be available right at launch.

As someone living in the Great White North, the Zune platform left a bad taste in my mouth due to its slew of features that those outside of the US could not access. As such, I'm really looking forward to seeing it Microsoft learned its lessons from Zune and fixes them with Xbox Music. Even common services in the US such as Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music are available in few places outside of the US (the UK is blessed with a couple), so if Microsoft has good availability with its Xbox Music service, it could see swift wide-spread adoption.