It has now been four months since Windows 8 was released to the public and available at retail at the end of October 2012. At the same time the built in Xbox Music App became the default music service on Windows 8.
Caveat: This is not a post about the issues with the Xbox Music App. Many of us have experienced those problems and are looking forward to version 2.0 to help with the apps post Zune software functionality.
Now, leading up to the release of Windows 8 the Xbox Music service was talked about a lot across tech blogs and sites. One of the features that was mentioned in most of the coverage of the service and touted as the penultimate feature was the free unlimited streaming of music that the app would bring to users on any Windows 8 machine, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface RT, and eventually the Surface Pro. The only Microsoft platform that was not going to benefit from the unlimited offerings was the Xbox 360 console where it would cost $9.99 per month to get that and bring in other benefits including song downloads.
Like I said that unlimited streaming feature was highly discussed but there was another element of Xbox Music that did not get nearly as much publicity and that is a limitation that will be introduced 6 months after the release of Windows 8 and Xbox Music. By my calculation that means the end of April 13.
If you head over to the official Xbox Music site at http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Music you will see an asterisks at the end of this line:
Stream millions of songs free
With Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs, you can stream millions of songs free. Search for any artist, song, or full album and instantly play whatever you want.*
If you then scroll down to the bottom of the page you will see the asterisk refers to this statement:
*Free streaming limited to 10 hours/month after 6 months; unlimited with paid subscription.
Looking for another level of confirmation that this limitation of 10 hours of streaming a month goes into effect after 6 months? Check out the story at the Microsoft News Center, Introducing Xbox Music: The Ultimate All-in-One Music Service Featuring Free Streaming on Windows 8 and Windows RT Tablets and PCs, which was released about two weeks before Windows 8 was released for General Availability.
In that story there is this paragraph:
Free streaming1 music on Windows 8 and Windows RT. Enjoy on-demand access to tens of millions of songs for free on all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs. Discovering and enjoying free music on Windows 8 and Windows RT is as easy as typing an artist or song name and hitting “play” — songs are instantly available to stream and for you to create an unlimited amount of playlists.
That 1, which I bolded, refers to this note at the bottom of the story:
1 Limited hours of free streaming after 6 months; unlimited with paid subscription.
Bottom line is that around 6 months after the general availability of Windows 8 and the Xbox Music service, late April according to my math, the free unlimited music streaming will come to an end.
However, you will still get 10 hours of free streaming on all the platforms, except the Xbox 360 of course, which equates to 600 minutes of music each month which is better than none I guess.
Is that enough for you or do you think Microsoft should have continued to offer the unlimited music streaming for their Xbox Music service?