Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Zune Pass now offering rent to own music subscription model

Do you like to rent your music collection or own it outright? With the updated Zune Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service for its Zune line of portable media players, you can now have the best of both worlds. Sort of.

For a monthly fee of $14.99, Zune Pass subscribers get access to millions of tracks on a rental basis — once the subscription ends, access is shuttered — but with today’s changes they can also keep ten DRM-free tracks on a to-own basis to add permanently to their music collections.

Continue reading »

Not exclusive to XBox, Netflix HD streaming coming to Roku too

Last week Engadget reported that the XBox 360’s support for Netflix streaming would include a limited amount of HD content too – initially around 300 titles – prompting many to ask if High Def content would also make its way onto Roku’s Netflix set-top box.

Dan Rayburn quickly followed up to confirm that, despite the lack of an official company announcement, Roku’s hardware was at least technically capable of streaming Netflix in HD, leading to speculation that Netflix HD streaming could be a Microsoft exclusive, for the time being anyway.

Not so.

Continue reading »

Netflix streaming to Mac courtesy of Microsoft! Could Nokia phones be next?

Oh the irony

Netflix has finally began rolling out a version of its video streaming service for Mac users, and it comes courtesy of Microsoft. Although only available initially to “a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers”, with a full roll-out anticipated by the end of the year, the new PC-based version of the company’s ‘Watch Now’ service is powered by Microsoft’s Flash competitor Silverlight, a technology that crucially includes its own cross-platform ‘studio approved’ DRM solution, thus enabling Netflix to support both Windows-based PCs and now those running MacOS (Intel only).

Along with adding Mac support, Netflix says the adoption of Silverlight delivers a number of usability improvements too, including “a faster, easier connection” and “a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding.” Yes you read that right, fast-forwarding and rewinding. Who said the revolution wouldn’t be televised?

In the future, it’s very possible that Neflix’s use of Silverlight could see its streaming service reach even more devices beyond PCs and set-top boxes currectly supported. In particular I’m thinking of mobile phones and Internet tablets from Nokia. The Finnish handset maker has already announced that it plans to support Silverlight on future handsets, starting with those powered by S60, with S40 and Maemo devices to follow. And from a marketing perspective, a partnership with Netflix would make a lot of sense as it would surely help the company shift more handsets in the US. In this regard, Nokia has previous form too. The company’s flagship smartphone, the N96, is in part being sold in the UK based on its support for the BBC’s iPlayer service.

Review: XBox Live Video Store – where's all the content?

Although the UK version of Microsoft’s Video Store for its XBox 360 console launched last December, it wasn’t until just over a month ago that I got to try out the service for myself. Microsoft’s PR team kindly loaned me a top of the line model – the HDMI equipped 120GB “Elite” version – to hook up to my High Definition TV to download and watch a few shows and movies purchased from XBox Live. However, while the service is dead easy to use and worked as intended, for a number of reasons I came away disappointed.

Continue reading »

With little fanfare, Microsoft confirms details of third-gen Zune digital music players

Poor Zune. No matter what Microsoft does, its portable MP3 player is still treated like an ugly stepchild.

Rather than launching the third generation Zune to fanfare as planned on Sept. 16, Microsoft’s hand was forced when a partner — Ars Technica says it was the retailer Fry’s — “inadvertently posted a lion’s share of information” on the new devices, and Microsoft decided it might as well confirm the details.

All of this coming, of course, less than a day before Apple is expected to update its line of iPods with its usual special-event, hyped-to-the-max news conference.

The new Zunes include a handful of new features, none of which will erode Apple’s market dominance, but they are welcomed nonetheless. The first lets you buy songs over Wi-Fi, which you can already do on the iPod touch and iPhone through Apple’s iTunes Store.

Another feature allows you to buy songs you hear on the FM radio, something I would have liked 10 years ago, but now with the iPod (or Zune) who listens to FM radio all the time? The Zune also will be getting some music recommendation features, casual games, and a lower price for the Zune Pass subscription service.

Continue reading »

Report: HTC's Android-powered "Google phone" may be delayed after all

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Developing a phone — even if it is just an operating system — is not something you do overnight with a bunch of cajoled software developers.

Just a week after High Tech Computer (HTC) said it was on schedule to deliver Android-powered cell phones by the 4Q of 2008, another report surfaces Thursday that says HTC is “having structural problems to incorporate Google’s demand feature set” and “demanding a guaranteed minimum revenue surety from Google,” according to Barron’s Tech Trader Daily.

Barron’s picked up a research note from Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research saying his “contacts” contend that HTC’s Android handset — the so-called Google phone — will be delayed until the first quarter of 2009.

Additionally, Chowdhry’s “contacts” tell him that another problem Google is having is attracting software developers to the platform. They’re too busy writing code for Windows Mobile, Nokia (Symbian), Research in Motion (BlackBerry), and Apple’s iPhone.

That’s no surprise. These guys actually have phones, real working phones, to develop for and test.

Continue reading »

Video: Netflix streaming on XBox 360

Now it’s official that Netflix is coming to the Xbox 360, although not until this fall, we’re as curious as the next person to see just how well it’s been implemented. Luckily, Inside XBox has published a brief – and we mean brief – video walk-through of the new feature.

Initial impressions: the UI is slick, and the integration between the XBox 360’s newly designed dashboard and, where you still manage your Watch Now cue, works as expected. We’re not sure what kind of Internet connection they were using, but movies start playing almost immediately. Check out the video for yourself after the jump.

Continue reading »

Xbox Live Video Marketplace gets content from NBC, Universal and other E3 tidbits

e3Microsoft’s deal with Netflix and the Xbox 360’s impending makeover wasn’t the only news from the E3 Media & Business Summit Monday. A few other tidbits include Microsoft, Universal, and NBC; hard drives; and a new Wii controller.

New partners for Video Marketplace

Microsoft has partnered with NBC and Universal to bring new content to the Video Marketplace, Microsoft’s online service. TV shows include “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Office,” and “30 Rock,” among others. Movies include “The Mummy” and “Bourne Supremacy.”

With more than 10,000 movies and TV shows in the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, Microsoft contends it is now the world’s largest provider of on-demand high-definition content.

Continue reading »

Netflix is finally coming to Xbox 360, which is getting a dashboard makeover and Mii-like avatars

netflix xbox 360Long rumored, finally here. Netflix is coming to the Xbox 360.

Xbox 360 owners and Live Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers will be able to stream online movies to their consoles at no extra cost. Netflix is the world’s largest DVD rental service.

The Xbox becomes the only game system that lets users immediately watch movies and TV shows steamed from Netflix. Along with the existing Xbox LIVE Marketplace Video Store, the Xbox 360 has more access to movies and TV shows on demand than any other device connected to the TV, according to Microsoft.

Xbox owners can also share Netflix movies with friends via Xbox LIVE party so you can watch “Super Bad” together. This will require an Xbox Gold LIVE account however.

Continue reading »

Stream Netflix movies to an Xbox 360 with vmcNetflix add-in

vmcNetflixIt’s been long rumored that Netflix may be coming to gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, you still have to wait for that to officially happen. Fortunately, at least for a few Xbox 360 owners, there is a work-around.

Lifehacker provides instruction on how to turn an Xbox 360 into a streaming Netflix player — as long as you meet a few requirements.

One: You own an Xbox 360.

Two: You have a Netflix subscription.

Three: You use Microsoft Vista with the Vista Media Center, included by default in Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions.

Four: You download and install the freeware plug-in vmcNetflix, an add-in for Vista Media Center. You can find it here with instructions.

Continue reading »