Xbox Music allows people to choose from 30 million tracks and stream them for free with ads. The service sells downloadable tracks that have been kept off streaming services by artists or labels. A radio service on Xbox Music also generates song playlists automatically along genres or similar artists.
The thinking is if new consumers enjoy the free experience online, some might upgrade to pay $10 a month for the Xbox Music Pass, which allows playback on mobile phones and Microsoft's game console, Xbox 360, and its upcoming version, Xbox One. Microsoft is also launching apps for iPhones and Android devices that will allow paying subscribers to access Xbox Music. Previously, you had to have a device running the Windows Phone 8 operating system to access the plan on the go.
The decision to allow Xbox Music to run on competitors' phone platforms is in line with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp.'s move in June to release app versions of its Office software on Apple's iPhone.
Microsoft is also updating its Xbox Music interface by reducing the size of cover art but adding tabs to make it easier to create and manage playlists.
Starting with its release Nov. 22, Xbox One users will also be able to play games while listening to Xbox Music simultaneously, a feature that isn't offered on the Xbox 360.