Microsoft triumphantly slammed the final nail into the coffin of their former flagship music and media branding that was Zune today as they heralded the arrival of Xbox Music. Don Mattrick, head of interactive entertainment referred to it as "the music service we always dreamed of building".
Whilst truly specific details were sadly lacking in the presentation, (we're promised a full and detailed press release soon), we do know some of the key features of the proposed service. It will be available on Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7 devices and on all upcoming Windows 8 tablets and PCs with 30 million songs available at launch. Here's the official press release statement:
With a Windows 8 PC or other Windows 8-based device, you get instant access to millions of songs to stream. Select your favorites or create a SmartDJ playlist around the artists you love most. Like what you hear? You can purchase songs in the music store or, with a music subscription offering, get unlimited access to music across all your devices, like your Windows 8 PC, devices or TV. You can even download music to your personal library for offline listening wherever you are. The Music app on Windows 8 makes it easy to listen to music any way you want.
As Microsoft set to strike out in the direction of Apple in Windows 8, with a unified approach to all services, we can of course view this as the direct response to iTunes and Google Play Music on Android. The big question here is, will consumers bite? iTunes is a solidly established competitor, and what Google Play Music lacks in experience it makes up for in sheer market share by default of Android's dominance on the mobile market.
With the 'new Xbox' (codenamed Durango) clearly staying under wraps until next year, you have to admire the longevity, scope and tenacity of Microsoft in re-imagining their current-gen hardware.