On December 1, Microsoft will be canceling their free Xbox Music streaming option that is currently available on the web, and Windows 8/8.1 devices. The Redmond based tech giant explained their decision with a generic response:
We are focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers. With Xbox Music Pass, you have access to millions of songs on your PC, tablet, Xbox, phone, and the web. Download music for offline listening and create playlists that automatically sync across all your devices. Don’t have a Music Pass? Sign up for a free 30-day trial at http://www.xbox.com/music/music-pass.
Honestly, the free streaming was never too great. It was like Spotify (also available on Windows Phone), but with less selection and features. Microsoft may have felt that the effort required to compete in the free streaming business was not worth the return. If you have added your own MP3's to the music collection, all Microsoft has to say is the following:
No, there will be no change to the MP3 files you added to your Xbox Music collection.
But since you won't be able to stream free, its not clear what will happen to the songs you matched to the cloud. Regardless, if you want to bring your music to the cloud, the best option remains Google Music. You can upload your MP3s (up to 20,000) and then listen to them via a free (and ad-free) streaming app on the web, Android and iOS (with unofficial clients on Windows Phone).
However, if you are on Windows and Windows Phone, buying a Xbox Music pass remains one of the best ways to go -- and what Microsoft seems to want users to do. You can get a one month trial, but after that, it will cost you $9.99 a month.
Microsoft has set up a FAQ about their decision (here), and if you don't want to upgrade to a pass, we suggest you start migrating your playlists, as on December 1 they will just be words on a screen.