For awhile now, Microsoft has allowed free Xbox Music streaming to Windows 8.1 and Web users. Downloading music and accessing it on Windows Phone (and other platforms) requires the Xbox Music Pass at $9.99/month, but if all you want is to stream from a Windows PC or via the Web, you’re all set.
Why is the Xbox Music free streaming feature being discontinued?
We are focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers. With Xbox Music Pass, you have access to millions of songs on your PC, tablet, Xbox, phone, and the web. Download music for offline listening and create playlists that automatically sync across all your devices. Don’t have a Music Pass? Sign up for a free 30-day trial at http://www.xbox.com/music/music-pass.
No changes have been announced with the Xbox Music Pass, and of course all purchased and downloaded music will remain available. I’m wondering if Microsoft will be changing things when it comes to Xbox Music given this announcement. I’m sure free streaming wasn’t intended to be forever, but some folks will likely be very disappointed by this change. Given how fast things are moving in the music space, I’m thinking Microsoft will have to do some things to remain competitive–and ending the free subscription probably isn’t one of them.
Update: Some folks have mentioned that this leaves no free music option for the Xbox One (and presumably the Xbox 360). I’m not 100% certain about that, not having used either in awhile, but if so then that’s definitely a disappointment.