Microsoft Unveils Xbox Music, Xbox Video, and Xbox SmartGlass

Microsoft on Monday held a videogame-filled E3 press conference, during which it also unveiled its new Xbox-based media services, which included Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps for Windows 8 and an Xbox SmartGlass service that will connect Microsoft’s bestselling video game console to Windows-based and competitor phones and tablets.

Ignoring the overbearing and videogame silliness for a moment—it was basically just shooter and sports game sequels and the inevitable Lara Croft panting and heaving breasts—Microsoft finally revealed its plans for replacing Zune services with Xbox and integrating its coming Windows 8 generation of products with the Xbox 360.

Zune Music is being replaced by a service called Xbox Music, which Microsoft says will feature more than 30 million tracks and work across Windows 8 PCs and tablets, Windows Phone 8 handsets, and its Xbox 360 console. Zune Video—which provides TV shows and movies for purchase as well as movie rentals—is being replaced by Xbox Video, though Microsoft is of course providing a number of competing video services on the Xbox 360 as well, with more than 35 new video providers coming online this year alone.

Both services will be bolstered by native Windows 8 apps, also called Xbox Music and Xbox Video, respectively. These apps will presumably be re-branded for the Windows 8 final release, as they’re simply called Music and Video today.

Meanwhile, a new service and set of mobile apps called Xbox SmartGlass will let users of smartphones and tablets interact with and control the Xbox 360. SmartGlass works with Windows 8-based phones, tablets, and PCs—as you’d expect—but also with Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and with Android-based devices. Using the appropriate mobile app, you can begin watching or listening to content on the go and then continue later on the Xbox 360. Likewise, you can use your device to control the Xbox 360, or as an ancillary device while watching a movie or TV show, or playing a game, on the console.

In other news, Microsoft is bringing its Internet Explorer (IE) 10 web browser to the Xbox 360. This app looks and works much like the Metro version of the browser on Windows 8 and can be used in tandem with smartphones and tablets via Xbox SmartGlass, and with Kinect’s voice-command functionality, obviating the problems with navigating the web using a regular video game controller.

Microsoft also announced a ton of new content partners, including Nike (which will bring its NIKE+ Fuel technology to the Xbox and Kinect via a new Training title), Nickelodeon, Paramount movies, Machinima, and Univision, and sports providers such as the NBA, NHL, and ESPN, which is dramatically increasing its Xbox-based content.

Oh, there were video games, too, although nothing dramatic unless you find sequels to be surprising: Sequels to Halo, Call of Duty, Splinter Cell, Gears of War, Assassins Creed, Tomb Raider, Madden, and many, many others were touted during the show.

TAGS: Windows 8
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