Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Zune Out, Xbox Music In

Microsoft CorporationMicrosoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has given proper good-byes as it put Zune to sleep earlier this year. However, there has been much speculation as to whether Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) would replace the music-streaming service and what it would look like. It seems that the answers to this are very near in coming. It is being reported that a Spotify-type service called Xbox Music is expected the launch around October 26, which is the official launch date for the latest Windows flagship operating system, Windows 8.

Reports from sources is that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) will launch Xbox Music and make it available on all Microsoft products, including Windows Phone devices, Xbox 360 and even Windows 8-based PCs and tablets. The company also intends to expand beyond its own universe, providing apps for iOS devices made by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and devices for Android by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) – though those won’t launch until a later date, yet to be determined. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) also plans to update all of its media applications to accommodate the new service.

It is reported that the new service will have a free, ad-supported version just like Spotify, but will also have an ad-free, paid-subscription, unlimited-music service. Final prices for the subscription have not been revealed yet, but word is that current Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 console owners would need an Xbox Live Gold subscription and about $60 per year to access the service through the console.  Current Zune Music Pass subscribers will have their accounts transferred over to Xbox Music automatically.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) certainly understands that the Xbox brand has been active and strong in the marketplace, but is it strong enough to draw users to the branded Music platform in significant numbers will be a question, considering the Zune concept did not gain traction over six years. Investors in Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) stock, like billionaire fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, will be watching intently on the Windows-related launches over the fourth quarter of 2012, including Xbox Music.