Xbox Music replaces Zune

Xbox MusicAfter much speculation about the future of Zune, Microsoft has finally driven the stake into the walking dead that was Zune. What was reborn was Xbox Music which appears to have finally put Microsoft on level footing with iTunes, Pandora and Spotify in capturing the consumer dollar.Microsoft has positioned its Xbox Music platform as a all-in-one music service but it still appears to be lacking some standard functions as digital radio channels.  Obviously a key part of their music platform is built around Smart DJ which creates custom playlists of your favourite artists but there is certainly a missing market for branded content channels like what YouTube is building. It is sometimes just easier to click listen to a specific genre and tune out than having to think what artist you want to hear.The coolest feature is the My Music App used to manage all your existing iTunes songs, albums ripped from your CDs which means they can attract users with large libraries of content purchased on other services or sitting on their shelves collecting dust.  The platform also moves to slow the growth of Amazon as the your collection is synced via the Cloud across your PC, WindowsPhone and Xbox 360.The sharing between Microsoft devices should give the service enough weight to make it a long term player in the market but I can see consolidation in the online music space to grow audience numbers quicker.Xbox Music Pass Features? Obviously the key feature of Xbox Music is full integration across all your Microsoft devices including Windows 8, Windows RT Tablets, Windows Phone 8 and your Xbox 360. This is certainly a sign that Microsoft is starting to emulate Apple's successful single platform multiple device strategy. The added bonus of Music Pass is the instant streaming of tunes or the ability to listen to them offline across your devices. This puts Xbox Music one step ahead of the competitors in satisfying users who love streaming or those who prefer to take it offline. Some features such as unlimited skipping is a direct pitch to win consumers using other services such as Pandora or Spotify.  Xbox Music Pass Prices for Australia is $11.99/month or $119.90 for 12 months.Xbox Music Pass Trial Terms & ConditionsYour 30-Day Music Pass Trial gives you unlimited access to millions of songs on your Windows PC or tablet, and Windows Phone. Download or stream as many songs as you like and listen to them for as long as your subscription is up to date. Credit card required. After your free 30 days, this trial continues to a paid monthly subscription at $11.99 AUD per month (subject to change) plus applicable taxes unless you cancel before the end of the trial period. You may cancel at any time at http://www.xbox.com/account. (After signing in, disable automatic renewal in your account settings). Charges are not refundable. Limit 1 Trial per person. Some songs and other content in the Music Store are not available with your Music Pass. Content may vary over time. See Xbox.com/music for system requirements and terms of use.Does Xbox Music work?The platform seems to have all the right features and marketing to make it work along with a 30 day free trial which will surely be a big enticement to users wanting to explore it more.  The branding is certainly consistent and having a single Microsoft service that works across multiple platforms does finally offer a suitable alternative to Apple iTunes and Google Play. It will be interesting how aggressively Microsoft rolls out the Xbox Music Pass promotional codes to get a larger user base using the service via it's extensive channel partner, online and retail networks.