Microsoft has released details of its Xbox Music service, offering access to around 30 million songs worldwide.
It's available free on any device running Windows RT or Windows 8, with which it comes bundled, as well as on the Xbox itself for $9.99 per month. The free service includes ads every 15 minutes or so. Eventually, it should appear on Android and iOS too.
The number of tracks available will vary from country to country, with the US being offered around 18 million.
Offering unlimited music streaming, Xbox Music will compete with Apple's iTunes, as well as services such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody. Users can also buy music.
"There are a lot of individual services that do a good job, but today there isn’t a service which can pull together the benefits of download-to-own, music subscription, or free streaming services," says Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy.
"With Xbox Music, what we wanted to do is bring all of that value in one simple, easy-to-use service, then build some additional value on top — make it really beautiful, and have it work across all of your devices. We’ve been able to simplify the music experience in a really powerful way."
Users can create music mixes and playlists, create artist-based internet radio stations and use Smart DJ to create playlists with unlimited skipping. As a cloud-based service, the $9.99 version allows users to access these playlists from any device.
The service starts rolling out tomorrow for the Xbox 360, and will appear later this month on Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets and on mobile phones. It will form part of the 2012 console update for Xbox 360.