Microsoft bringing new music service (yay!) and more ads (boo!) to Xbox

Xbox 360 owners, I've got some good news and some bad news for you today. And none of it has anything to do with the Xbox 720.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Prepare yourselves for more ads. As Microsoft continues to transition the Xbox 360 from gaming console to entertainment hub, they've been adding more and more apps that offer streaming media. These apps are where you'll be seeing addtional adveristing. Gamasutra reports that apps "such as ESPN, Last.fm, Manga Entertainment, GameSpot, and MUZU.TV" will now include 15-30 second ads in their content.

Apparently the UFC, Crackle and TMZ apps already have similar ads, so if you're used to them there I guess they won't be any worse on ESPN. I haven't used these apps enough to experience the ads, personally.

In order to use any of these apps, of course, you need an Xbox Live Gold Subscription, which generally costs you $40-$60/year (depending on what discounts you can find). That makes these additional ads a bit harder to swallow, in my opinion. I'm already paying for the service: why do I have to watch ads too?

Anyway let's move on to the good news, at least for music lovers. According to The Verge (they don't list a source) Microsoft will reveal a new cross-platform music service at this year's E3 in June. This is essentially the replacement for the Zune Music service.

Code-named "Woodstock," The Verge says the new service will work on the Xbox 360, Windows 8 (and by implication, Windows Phone 8), iOS and Android. Sounds like it'll offer a browser-based interface too, so those of us still on other versions of Windows should be able to get in on the fun.

The service is due to launch later in the year, alongside the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. So what will Microsoft bring to the table that we can't get on any of the many other streaming music services? That will remain a mystery until E3...but that's only 6 weeks away. This year is flying by!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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