Woodstock To Replace Zune

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 sits at the center of many a media library. The system is now used more for entertainment — watching television and movies, listening to music — than it is for gaming. More and more entertainment apps are becoming available all the time, most recently HBO Go and Xfinity TV On Demand.

In addition to the myriad third-party entertainment apps available on Xbox 360, Microsoft itself offers subscription-based access to music through the Zune Music Marketplace — though the service’s days may be numbered. According to new reports, Zune is about to be phased-out in favor of a new Microsoft subscription music service, codenamed Woodstock.

As a physical product, Zune media players have been discontinued since last October. At the time, Microsoft promised the Zune brand would live on through Xbox Live and Windows Phone, though let’s face it — no company wants its current offerings closely associated with past failures. As such, the rush to a new platform makes a lot of sense.

The Verge is responsible for uncovering this news on Woodstock, which is allegedly set for some kind of reveal during E3 2012 — whether this will be a full-on, press conference level unveiling or a behind closed doors look at the service remains to be seen. Either way, Woodstock isn’t expected to go live until Windows Phone 8 is released, and by that time it may well have an entirely new name. Could Microsoft’s “XboxFL” domain registrations be a clue?

Unlike Zune, which was restricted to Xbox 360, PC and Windows Phone, Woodstock is expected to support iOS and Android devices as well — a crucial consideration for any streaming media service. Woodstock is believed to function similarly to Spotify, which allows users access to all the music they want for $9.99 a month (incidentally, why is there no Spotify app for either Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3?). Woodstock’s Facebook integration allegedly offers friends the opportunity to share tracks and create playlists. Also under consideration is an iTunes Match-like┬ácomponent┬áthat would allow users access to their existing music library through the service.

In many ways, Woodstock closely resembles Sony’s Music Unlimited, which also offers subscription-based access to music across a number of devices. Like Spotify and current Zune subscriptions, Music Unlimited Premium runs $9.99 a month, though there is also a Basic version for $3.99. Expect Woodstock to stick to that $10 a month price range.

With so many options for music streaming services, Woodstock will need to do something special to set itself apart. What would make you choose Woodstock over Spotify, iTunes, Rhapsody, Music Unlimited and the rest? Let us know in the comments below.

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Source: The Verge