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Nokia Music for Windows 8 could be setting the stage for a Lumia tablet (hands-on)

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Nokia Music for Windows 8
Nokia Music for Windows 8

Nokia Music has been available for Windows Phone in the US since September, but the company is making the move to Windows 8 and Windows RT shortly. As part of a Nokia Music+ offering, the Finnish company is launching a native version of its Music app specifically designed for Windows 8 tablets. It's not in the Windows Store just yet, but we got an early look at the app at Mobile World Congress today.

Unlike Spotify, Nokia Music does not let you select tracks individually, opting for a Pandora-like service that creates playlists based on your favorite artists. The Windows 8 version lets you search for an artist or create a playlist based on three different artists. There are options to view lyrics alongside the song, and Nokia lets subscribers download offline playlists. Unfortunately, the application won't be available for free. You'll have to subscribe to the Nokia Music+ service, at $3.99 per month, to access it on Windows 8. There's a seven day free trial, but after that it's subscription or no access at all.

Why is Nokia creating Windows 8 apps?

Nokia has limited its Music service to Lumia Windows Phones previously, so it's curious that the company has started expanding to Windows 8 and Windows RT devices without any hardware for those operating systems of its own. We understand Nokia has been working on a Windows RT tablet previously, but recent rumors suggest that the project has been replaced by a Windows 8 version.

Nokia has no other apps for Windows 8, but I asked Nokia about its Maps plans for a native Windows 8 app. A company spokesperson says it has nothing to announce just yet. If Nokia is contemplating a tablet launch in 2013, then it would make sense for the company to differentiate against Surface and other offerings by launching exclusive apps for its own hardware. It's the same strategy used for Windows Phone, and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop believes the company can compete against hardware like Surface. Nokia has been talking up its tablet plans for months now, but its entry into Windows 8 apps appears to set the stage for a grand unveiling.