Zune finally becomes Xbox Music, but questions remain about the service

Microsoft finally answered the question of what will be happening with the Zune Music service. During their E3 press briefing, Microsoft unveiled “Xbox Music”. This service doesn’t necessarily replace Zune in the same way that Zune replaced PlaysForSure. It’s essentially a reimagining of Zune services, better enhanced and focused to utilize the power of Xbox Live to make music easier to discover, distribute and consume.

While the announcement finally answered the question of what’s going to happen to Zune, it still left a few questions lingering in its wake.

But first let’s take a step back and understand what was exactly announced during the press briefing. When you read Microsoft’s press release, they describe the new Xbox Music service this way:

Xbox Music, also coming this fall, will bring the best of popular existing services to one place, letting the customer purchase music or subscribe to music on the console – and also on any cloud-connected device.

Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, also elaborates on this new service, saying:

“It’s the music service we’ve always dreamed of building, so it will really be the best of download-to-own or subscription music,” Mehdi says. “You’ll be able to personalize and share with your friends, and best of all, discover new music and integrate it with your Windows 8 PC, tablet and phone.”

By the way, last time I checked the Zune music marketplace had 11 million tracks. The 30 million number that has been mentioned is quite a substantial jump.

While it’s fantastic that Microsoft is finally acknowledging what’s been known for quite some time, the questions still hang around: What about Zune Music Pass; does it become simply Xbox Music Pass? Does “any cloud-connected device” translate into devices that are besides Windows-based devices? What about people who stay with Windows 7 and what services/applications will they be using? When is the release date?

One thing is for certain: Zune is now Xbox Music (and Xbox Video). We can finally put that part of the puzzle to bed.

Now what do we do with the 1000 other pieces still lying on the table?