Microsoft's Internet music service will roll out starting Tuesday on Xbox and next week on computers with Windows 8, as the company looks to compete against Pandora Media and Spotify.
Xbox Music will offer free, unlimited advertising-supported streaming of music on computers and tablets. For those seeking access on the Xbox gaming console and mobile phones, the service costs $9.99 a month, said Scott Porter, principal program manager for the product.
Customers can also purchase albums and tracks. By offering music streaming and downloads, the world's largest software maker is betting it can attract users from Apple's iTunes and Amazon.com's music store, as well as listeners of streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and Rdio.
"This gives Microsoft a strong music story which they've lacked for years and extends the Xbox brand to media and entertainment," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at market research firm Gartner Inc.
The application also will be available on new handsets with Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 software, coming in November. Mobile apps for Apple's iOS and Google Inc.'s Android are planned for next year, Porter said.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft had already added television and sports content to its Xbox Live service in a bid to push into the consumer entertainment market.
Xbox Music features touch controls and the tile design of Windows 8. It also will be the default music service on the operating system. Customers who want to use the streaming service without ads on PCs and tablets will have to pay $9.99 a month.
Next year Xbox Music plans to add social features, such as those with Spotify, that tell users what music their friends are listening to.