Beginning today, Xbox Music, Microsoft's follow-up to Zune, will be accessible on the Xbox console, Bloomberg reports
. The new service, which is set to compete with the likes of Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes, will combine streaming radio with an online marketplace for entertainment purchases.
For those accessing Xbox Music on computers and tablets, starting October 26th, the ad-supported service will be free and unlimited. On the Xbox console and mobile phones, subscription to the service will be $9.99 per month. An application will be available on Windows 8 smartphones beginning in November, with apps for Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS coming next year.
An important feature in the new service is Microsoft's cloud integration, which will enable access to playlists and downloads across several devices. A market analyst at Gartner Inc. also told Bloomberg that Xbox Music will have longer intervals between ads, putting pressure on services such as Pandora and Spotify. Social features will initially be limited as service is refined in the coming months.
In a piece at ArsTechnica, Kyle Orland explores new updates to the entire Xbox interface
, now unified with the Windows 8 "Metro" style. The piece discusses several new features and refinements beyond the tile appearance and takes a look at the user analysis that went into its development.