Monday, November 19, 2012

Microsoft's greed with the Xbox 360

Netflix is, basically, an online video rental service. It's available for a surprisingly large number of platforms besides just desktop PCs. Other such platforms include various Android-based cellphones and tablets, the iPhone, iPod and iPad, Apple TV, various Blu-Ray Disc players and several gaming consoles, including the Nintendo Wii, 3DS, Sony Playstation 3, PlayStation Vita, and the Xbox 360.

There's one thing in common with all of them: Netflix can be used in all of them without any additional cost from the part of the platform's manufacturer.

Except for Microsoft's Xbox 360.

From the literally hundreds of different platforms that support Netflix, the Xbox 360 is the only one where it cannot be used without paying additional money to the platform's manufacturer (in this case Microsoft.) An Xbox Live Gold subscription is needed to use Netflix.

One could argue that this subscription is needed to account for costs from Microsoft's part. I don't know if running Netflix requires anything at all from Microsoft (eg. if it uses anything from a Microsoft's server), but it sounds spurious because for example neither Sony, Nintendo or Apple require any such additional costs to use Netflix. It just sounds like yet another way Microsoft uses to pressure people into paying the monthly subscription fees, at the cost of a third-party, and without any actual concrete reason for that (such as server maintenance costs or the like.)

I wouldn't be surprised if Netflix weren't very happy with this situation. Microsoft is using their service to entice people into paying monthly fees to Microsoft (while other platforms do no such thing.)

It can get quite egregious at times. Recently Microsoft added Internet Explorer to the Xbox 360, which means that you can now surf the web with the console. Well, guess if it can be used if you don't have the Xbox Live Gold subscription. And why exactly is it needed? It's not like the browser needs anything from a Microsoft server any more than the same browser in your PC. (And even if it did, I'm quite sure Microsoft could afford it. After all, the console already downloads tons of things from the Xbox Live servers even without the Gold subscription.)

I'm surprised that they don't limit the ability to actually buy games from Xbox Live only to those with the Gold subscription. I suppose that in this case it would have been more of a loss than a gain (not to talk about the backlash from game vendors.)

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