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The big release of Windows 8 and its many, many affiliated products and services is drawing strikingly close, and with tidbits of info arriving straight from the Redmond-based horse’s mouth on an almost daily basis, Microsoft has today updated the world on the ins and outs of Xbox Music.

Rumored for a long time, Xbox Music will essentially amalgamate services like Apple’s iTunes with streamers like Spotify – challenging both for market share in the process. By means of a press release, many of the juicy details of Xbox Music have today been unveiled, with a library of thirty million tracks available from launch.

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If you’ve managed to miss the umpteen speculation with regards to Xbox Music, it’s important – for purpose of clarity – to point out that despite its name, Xbox Music is in no way limited to the software maker’s market-leading games console / entertainment suite. In fact, Xbox Music is to be an integral part of the Windows 8 experience, and as such will be available cross-platform on your  tablet, PC, smartphone and TV.

Microsoft’s announcement is as much of a rumor-confirmation as anything else, and just as anticipated, the service will be heavily based on the current Zune Pass package. Like Spotify etc, listeners will be able to stream tracks for free over Xbox Music, while the paid ($9.99) Xbox Music Pass will offer unlimited, ad-free listening as well as unlimited playback of any track offered in Microsoft’s "Subscription Catalog."

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The "Scan and Match" service – allowing users to upload their own tracks – and the apps for iOS and Android – will not be immediately available, but with a rather impressive music in the offing, the lack of initial support for the Big Two might give a few consumers to pick up a Nokia Lumia 920.

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Music discovery is fairly big business (read: Last.fm), so Microsoft’s "Smart DJ" could be essential in determining whether Xbox Music can really take a chunk out of the lucrative market. Touted as "a quick and dynamic way to personalize your collection [and] discover new favorites" it’ll serve as the music lover’s very own online radio, and since rivals also offer similar takes on the "be your own DJ" feature, it’ll be intriguing to see whether Microsoft brings enough to the table in order to coerce consumers away from their current services.

(source Microsoft)

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