In December Microsoft will kill off the free Xbox Music streaming that it débuted when it relaunched the service from the ashes of the Zune service just two years ago.
Microsoft announced the move and updated its support pages accordingly just yesterday. Effective December 1st, users won’t be able to stream any songs or playlists from Xbox Music for free. Users who made playlists with the free music streaming won’t loose them. Instead, they’ll stay available and syncing, but include 30 second clips instead of the free song. To listen to the full versions of these songs, Microsoft is encouraging users to sign up for its Xbox Music Pass for $9.99 a month.
Free Xbox Music streaming débuted with the Windows and online versions of Xbox Music. It was Microsoft’s hope that offering free music streaming with advertisements would allow it to attract a larger audience willing to upgrade to Xbox Music Pass. Apparently, that’s not what happened. Today, there seems to be around the same number of Xbox Music Pass users as there were Zune Music Pass subscribers. Unfortunately, there’s no way to confirm that because Microsoft doesn’t make those numbers public.
The killing of free Xbox Music streaming comes just days after Microsoft revealed a Music Deals app for Windows and Windows Phone. This app lets users take advantage of timed deals for complete albums that cost as little as $1.99. The app pushes users to Xbox Music on Windows and Windows Phone, where they make their purchases. It also includes a link to Xbox Music Pass free trials.
One thing we do know is that by pulling free music streaming, Microsoft is either putting the nail in its own coffin or preparing for big changes down the road. Spotify, the world’s largest music service allows users to stream music from its catalog for free with ads.