Microsoft to discontinue free Xbox Music streaming

Microsoft said it would emphasize its music purchase and subscription service

Microsoft is withdrawing free streaming on Xbox Music from Dec. 1, citing the need to focus on its music purchase and subscription service.

The company is offering a free 30-day trial for users wanting to move to the paid service.

"Effective December 1, 2014, the free Xbox Music streaming feature currently available on Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and over the Internet will be discontinued in all countries where it is offered," Microsoft wrote on a support page.

The move will not affect music purchases on Xbox Music or MP3 files added to Xbox Music collections, according to a Microsoft FAQ. Users can also continue to view playlists or collections set up using the free streaming feature, but they can't listen to the music in those playlists or collections unless they sign up for the Xbox Music Pass or buy the music.

Microsoft rolled out Xbox Music in October 2012, first to Xbox 360 users around the world, and a little later to Windows 8 users.

The cloud-based music service was then touted as combining the best aspects of free-streaming radio, music subscription services and music purchasing options. It would free users from having to hop services when they wanted, for example, to buy music that they had just listened to on Internet radio. The free streaming service was ad-supported.

In Microsoft's FAQ about the retirement of free streaming, the company did not provide more information on why it had changed its mind on the free service, except for mentioning the need to emphasize on its paid services. At US$9.99 per month, Xbox Music offers ad-free streaming, syncing among devices, and offline listening on PC, tablet and phone.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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