Free access to 30 million songs and cloud storage, as long as you can sit through advertisements.
Microsoft's Zune branding is being shuffled out of the spotlight, although the company is still selling subscriptions to the Zune Music Marketplace, giving access to 11 million songs for $9.99 a month. The company's next foray into the music streaming arena is in the form of Xbox Music, which was announced at E3 2012. Now it looks like the service is going to launch as soon as October 26th.
Xbox Music will offer 30 million tracks via a subscription-based model, but it'll also have a free version that is supported by ads, much like Spotify. The launch will coincide with the release of Windows 8, and the new service will also be made available on the upcoming operating system, as well as Windows Phone. Xbox 360 users can expect a Dashboard update coming soon to support Xbox Music on their console.
Microsoft will also integrate the streaming service with SkyDrive, its cloud-based storage offering. Users will be able to store tracks and playlists in the cloud and sync the information to compatible devices. There are plans to make Xbox Music available on other platforms such as iOS and Android, although it doesn't look like the official apps will be available on launch day.
By the way, if you happen to be one of the handful of Zune subscribers still out there in the wild, Microsoft will be shifting you over to the new service when it's ready. Getting access to more than twice as many songs overnight? Neat.