Microsoft and Netflix bring streaming to Windows Media Center sans Extender support

Netflix on Microsoft Media Center

Netflix on Microsoft Media Center

It’s not the first time that Netflix functionality has been added to Microsoft’s Media Center software, but today the two companies released an official plug-in for the PC to TV platform.

Through a formal partnership, users of the Vista edition of Microsoft Media Center (not XP) can now access almost all of Netflix’s online features via the software’s TV-friendly “10-foot” User Interface, including browsing Netflix’s DVD library, editing their DVD and Watch Instantly queues, as well as stream movies and TV episodes from the company’s 12,000 strong library.

The resulting user experience is described as “slick” by Missing Remote, and “miles ahead” of existing third-party Netflix plug-ins. One glaring omission, however, is the ability to stream Netflix content to Windows Media Extender set-top boxes, which bridge the gap between the PC and TV via the same local area network to replicate the Windows Media Center experience and its content on a television. Instead, the only way to access Media Center’s Netflix functionality on a TV is to actually plug a PC into the television itself. That might be just fine for the hardcore Home Theatre PC crowd but for anybody whose invested in an official Microsoft-certified ‘Media Extender’. One word: Fail.

The reason could be technical (*cough* DRM) but is likely to be purely commercial. Microsoft and Netflix already provide a solution to enable ‘Watch Instantly’ streaming to a TV via the XBox 360. For the privilege, however, customers not only have to be on the right Netflix tier but need to take out a subscription to XBox Live Gold too.

Missing Remote‘s video demo after the jump…

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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