Microsoft brings Xbox Music to SA

Microsoft has announced that the full Xbox Music service will be available in South Africa within weeks, presumably placing the long-awaited service on the market in time for Christmas sales.

The company’s Managing Director for South Africa, MtetoNyati, revealed the product would be available on the South African market within the next eight weeks, although an exact date has not yet been released.

Though the Xbox Music service had been expected to be shared at the Windows 8 launch event in Johannesburg on Friday, Nyati disclosed in an interview with TechCentral that due to licensing difficulties the service would appear on the market with a slight delay.

Microsoft was not able to finalise licencing agreements with artists in time for Friday’s launch.

This announcement directly contradicts previous statements by Microsoft that no delays in the launch of the service would be experienced due to licencing, the company having so far insisted that licencing was running according to plan.

The Xbox Music service allows customers to both stream music and download their favourite music files. Contrary to indications implied by the name, the service not only operates on the Xbox 360 games console but also works on Windows-run PCs, tablets, and phones. It has also been rumoured that the service may be further expanded for compatibility with Android and iOS devices.

The new music service is intended to be the direct rival of Apple’s iTunes service – and acts as attempt number two in Microsoft’s battle to steal market dominance from iTunes, following the failure of the company’s previous service, Zune, to make a mark on consumers.

Xbox Music is set to be the default music player on all Windows 8 devices, and will provide a multitude of services.  The product sees in excess of 30 million music files made available to users – although the company has refused to divulge information as to which artists may participate in the new product prior to its launch -, discographies and artist information displayed, and a DJ feature which suggests songs and automatically compiles playlists.

The service will have free and subscription options, although it is not clear yet what the going-rates will be in South Africa for those that wish to pay for unlimited access to full Xbox Music services.

Launching the product in Europe earlier this month, Microsoft’s president of interactive entertainment business Don Mattrick said of the new service: “The launch of Xbox Music is a milestone in simplifying digital music on every type of device, and on a global scale.”

It has been speculated that making Xbox Music the default music player on Windows 8 devices, and providing a free option for consumers, may fuel more success for Microsoft than its previous attempt at attack with Zune in tackling Apple’s iTunes.

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