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Xbox Music arriving with Windows 8, £1 cheaper than Spotify

Microsoft's music service has been given a complete overhaul, introducing free streaming and downloadable tunes.

Microsoft's music service has been given a complete overhaul, introducing free streaming and downloadable tunes.

Xbox Music will be rolling out to Xbox 360 consoles as of tomorrow, and will be ready to use on Windows 8 when it goes live on 26 October. The service offers access to more than 30 million songs in Microsoft's catalogue.

Microsoft's own platforms -- including Windows 8, Windows 8 RT tablets and Windows Phone 8 smart phones -- will be first in line to get access to the new service, though the PowerPoint-producing company promises that Xbox Music will "become available on other platforms in the coming year." That likely means Android and iOS gadgets will get a dedicated app in 2013.

A scan-and-match feature is also coming next year. Like Apple's iTunes Match service, this tool will add the music you own to your Xbox Music catalogue.

Unfortunately the new service will not be available on devices running Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7. Users will however still be able to continue using Zune, which has access to the same catalogue of artists and tracks as Xbox Music.

The service is set up in much the same way as streaming rival Spotify. If you don't want to throw any cash at the service you can stream music for free, but you'll have to put up with ads, and the number of hours you can stream for becomes limited after six months.

If you're prepared to fork out £8.99 per month however, you get unlimited ad-free streaming and the ability to download songs to play offline -- handy if you commute into work on a bus or train every day.

The paid for 'Xbox Music Pass' option will probably be the only way to get the service on your smart phone, just as only paying Spotify members can use the mobile app.

Xbox Music is £1 cheaper than Spotify, which costs £9.99 per month for an equivalent service. That's only a quid per month, but could make all the difference to Windows 8 first-timers looking to subscribe to a streaming service.

Will you sign-up to Xbox Music, or does another music service have a hold on your heart? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.