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Microsoft Preps Spotify-Like Music Service

Streaming music service called "Woodstock" would replace Zune-branded services, according to published report.

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Microsoft is developing a streaming music service for its Xbox Live network and other platforms, and it may be introduced at the E3 consumer electronics expo in June, a published report said.

The service is currently in development under the code name "Woodstock," according to a report Wednesday by the tech blog The Verge. The blog cited anonymous insiders in reporting that the Woodstock service will be available for devices that support Xbox Live, Windows 8, or Google Android.

The Verge described Woodstock as a "Zune replacement" that's intended to compete with popular subscription streaming sites like Spotify, which currently counts more than 10 million users. "It's not expected to launch until later this year alongside Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices," the blog said. It might also be integrated with Facebook, which is partnering with Microsoft on a number of fronts.

Microsoft representatives were not immediately available for comment.

[ Should Microsoft unite all its consumer products under the Xbox brand? See How The Xbox Can Save Microsoft. ]

Microsoft has been gradually phasing out its Zune music hardware and services, which flopped amid competition from Apple's iPod and iTunes franchises. The company continues to offer a Zune-branded music service, but it killed the Zune MP3 player itself late last year when it announced in October that it would not replenish retailers' inventories once they sold out.

"Going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and we will no longer be producing Zune players," Microsoft said at the time.

Microsoft continues to support existing Zune owners, and it offers a Zune app for Windows Phone, through which users can download and listen to music. But it's expected the company will eventually phase out the Zune brand entirely as it focuses its consumer entertainment efforts around the Xbox and Windows platforms.

If The Verge's report is accurate, analysts might question why Microsoft plans to make Woodstock a cross-platform play. It's generally believed that Windows 8 and Windows Phone portable devices will need a significant amount of exclusive content to make them competitive against rival platforms from Apple and Google.

Microsoft is expected to release Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, which is being developed under the name Apollo, later this year.

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