A new streaming music service from Microsoft is in the works, according to The Verge. It will replace the current Zune media service and is set to debut next month in Los Angeles, at E3 2012.
There is no name for the new service as of yet. For the time being, it's being referred to by its codename, "Woodstock." It looks to be part of Microsoft's continued effort to build the Xbox brand as the centerpiece of digital media consumption and management.
Because it's debuting at E3, presumably during Microsoft's Xbox-focused presentation, the new platform will likely find a prominent home on the game console. But it's ultimately intended for cross-platform compatibility.
Not only will "Woodstock" be available for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices, but Android and iOS as well, along with any Internet-connected platform with a browser.
The Verge describes it as being "Spotify-like," and will integrate seamlessly with Facebook, to allow friends to build group playlists. It is also expected to have a "scan and match" function, similar to iTunes Match, which will acknowledge a user’s pre-existing music collection.
Given that Microsoft has claimed on multiple occasions that it will not be unveiling a Xbox 360 successor anytime soon, in favor of pushing the current console's abilities beyond just gaming, "Woodstock" falls perfectly in line with such a strategy.
The Zune was Microsoft's ultimately ill-fated attempt at getting a piece of personal media player marketplace that Apple still dominates. In recent years, it became a purely software driven music delivery service. With "Woodstock" looming, the Zune name may be completely retired.
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode , and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast . You can keep tabs on him via Twitter , or his personal home-base, FORT90.com .