According to new media reports, Microsoft is planning to launch a free music streaming service comparable to the currently Europe-only Spotify
peer-to-peer music streaming service.
Although the company's focused on beefing up its Zune offering, it's also looking at how such a service might tie into its Xbox 360 platform.
"Music is an important area for Microsoft," MSN executive producer Peter Bale told the UK Telegraph
. "We are looking at launching a music streaming service imminently."
"Imminently" means by the end of July, according to the Telegraph's report. The new service, according to Bale, "will be a similar principle to Spotify, but we are still examining how the business model will work."
Spotify users listen to about a minute of advertising every half hour, but can stream music for free. Spotify also has a monthly subscription option that turns off the ads, and it's likely that in addition to letting users download to own, Microsoft's service will also have both a free and paid option of some kind.
"We are looking at how other similar businesses have structured their business models and trying to figure out what will work best for both consumer and Microsoft," said Bale.
As far as how such a service would work with the Xbox 360, Bale did not disclose details, but the launch of a music service would be a logical complement to the rest of Microsoft's entertainment offering on the console.
The company recently announced that Xbox Live Gold members will have access to the Last.fm streaming radio service later this year, with a paid trial for Silver members. This particular service, however, would be entirely Microsoft owned and operated, according to the Telegraph.