With Microsoft’s Xbox Music service making its debut this week, industry consultant Mark Mulligan has been assessing its chances of success. Alongside praise – “Microsoft have done with Xbox music is what Apple should have done (should do?) with iTunes” – he notes that its key benefit is being preloaded in the Windows 8 PC operating system, which is expected to ship 350m units by the end of 2012. But he also points to some key challenges, including Microsoft’s historical lack of cross-division organisation when it comes to music; consumer distrust of “bloatware” preloads; and possible European regulatory scrutiny of the preloading itself. “Xbox music has the potential to be a game changing play, bringing digital music to the non-Apple masses.  But Microsoft will have to get over itself and some major market challenges first to fulfil that potential,” he suggests.

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