Xbox Music Service Launching October 26th, Will Offer Free Streaming Option

As we inch closer to the Windows 8 launch, taking place on October 26th, it’s becoming ever-more clear that Microsoft has one seriously ambitious day on its hands. Not even taking into account the fact that Windows 8 is a major shift for Microsoft’s OS, the company and its legion of partners will be unveiling the first-ever consumer Windows tablets – and I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering how those will fare next to the iOS and Android models that currently dominate the market.

Clearly a sign of the company not having enough on its plate already, rumor has it that Microsoft is set to launch “Xbox Music” on the same day as the Windows 8 launch. As it sounds, this looks to be a music service to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft’s failed Zune platform. In recent years, Microsoft has had clear intention of sticking with the brands it’s best known for, so with its “Xbox Music” name, it’s bound to capture the attention of many.

Xbox 360 – Soon to offer a compelling music solution

Similar to the Zune Marketplace’s options, users will be able to opt for paid subscriptions or go the free route and listen to their music with the occasional ad tossed in. At this point, details are very scarce, so what the subscriptions will offer and cost is left totally up to the imagination for now. Xbox Music is also set to support Microsoft’s storage service SkyDrive, however, so it seems likely that the subscriptions would include some space in the cloud.

With previous services, including Zune, Microsoft has become notorious for not supporting competitive platforms, but that won’t be the case with Xbox Music. Instead, you’ll be able to access the service not only on your Xbox 360, Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 device, but also your Android and iOS devices as well – although those competitive latter versions won’t be available right at launch.

As someone living in the Great White North, the Zune platform left a bad taste in my mouth due to its slew of features that those outside of the US could not access. As such, I’m really looking forward to seeing it Microsoft learned its lessons from Zune and fixes them with Xbox Music. Even common services in the US such as Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music are available in few places outside of the US (the UK is blessed with a couple), so if Microsoft has good availability with its Xbox Music service, it could see swift wide-spread adoption.

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Spend $19K, Get 30000 Bonus Microsoft Points on Xbox Live

Microsoft has officially launched its new MyAchievements rewards system for Xbox Live. The good news: You can now earn free Microsoft Points as a kind of “cashback” reward for microtransactions you make on Xbox Live.

The bad news? You’re going to have to spend a small fortune — and play a ton of games — to really see the fruits of your labors.

Here’s how it works. Microsoft has split its MyAchievements rewards system into three different tiers, which are all based on a person’s Gamerscore. If you’re an Xbox neophyte, or not much of a gamer, you have to hit a Gamerscore of at least 3,000 before you unlock the first reward tier: A “special gift” during your birthday month.

Keep playing to hit a Gamerscore of 10,000, and you’ll gain an additional reward beyond the unnamed gift during your big celebration month. Now, for everything you buy on Xbox Live, you’ll receive a (whopping) one percent reward of Microsoft Points per purchase. Bump up to a Gamerscore of at least 25,000, and the rebate reward increases to two percent.

Kotaku’s Owen Good ran the numbers, and this translates out to approximately 16 bonus Microsoft points for a typical $20 purchase. But before you start to have dreams of gaming the system, blowing a ton of cash at once, and reaping fistfuls of extra Microsoft points to last you the rest of your Xbox gaming life, know that Microsoft has put a limit of 30,000 bonus points across the entirety of the MyAchievements promotion.

Of course, to hit that, you’d have to spend nearly $19,000 at once on Xbox Live downloadable content.

According to the fine print on Microsoft’s MyAchievements site, the rewards promotion looks as if it’ll last until June 30, 2013. Also, don’t get too excited about the “big” gift that Microsoft has waiting for you once your birthday month hits: According to the company, it’s valued at approximately $0.25.

That’s, what, one digital party balloon?


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