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Microsoft are pushing on-line downloads

XBox360.jpgPerhaps Michael Bay was spot on when he said that Microsoft were pushing online downloads over Blu-ray and HD-DVD, you'd certainly think so after today's announcement.

MGM and Microsoft have signed a deal to make fifty classic films available on the XBox Live service for download, and by classics we mean the James Bond franchise, The Silence of the Lambs and Rocky.

The announcement through The Hollywood Reporter also says that additional television series will be joining XBox Live, series such as Desperate Housewives, Nightline, and Hannah Montana.

Now for someone who was pushing HD-DVD over Blu-ray that's an interesting deal. It might well put pay to rumours of an HD-DVD drive being included in the next release of XBox hardware, but it could mean another blow for the HD-DVD group, albeit a very small one.

I must admit that I've looked at downloading films on the XBox Live service, but since you can download only to the hard drive and there's no apparent way to back them up and watch them elsewhere, I'd be a bit concerned.

I've suffered from the red rings of death and had to send my XBox away for weeks on end to be repaired, now if I had my films on there I'd be kind of stuck, and at the mercy of others as to whether or not they stay on there.

Not that I'm being negative towards Microsoft, but if there's one thing about Windows, you must back up, and I'd want my films backed up on disc for piece of mind.

I wonder if we'll see something writeable in the near future, and with the recent Blu-ray defections of Warner Bros. And New Line, I wonder if they'll be adding a Blu-ray drive soon?

We do know that the Playstation 3 will be bringing films to their online offering soon, and when it does that will bring the might of Sony's back catalogue to the machine.



The scheme for the 360 is a movie rental (rather than purchase) service. As far as I can see this is not competing with bluray or HDdvd as you don't get to keep the movie or get any movie 'extras'. For £2/£3 a pop I'd be tempted to grab a movie for Sat night and then delete it afterwards (they probably autodelete). On the other hand the last DVD I watched was December 2005! Since then all my movies have been via Sky+ and Skymovies so non-disc based HD downloads may have a future in my house (if and when we get a HD telly)

Michael Bay is an ass. What he actually said was that Microsoft had deliberately supported HD-DVD as a spoiler tactic to destroy Blu-Ray so that they could dominate with downloads. The man is a complete idiot, not safe to be let off the set of whatever 'soft porn shot as entertainment for the masses' he's currently working on!

Downloads are undoubtedly the future (says the man with nearly 3000 DVD sets cluttering up his flat) but we're a long way from them being ready to take over from the shiny disc. Like the early days of the BBC web site (remember all those stupid video reports and slow doanloads) all the players are jostling for an early foothold and what Microsoft are doing is absolutely the right thing to do.

I own an XBox 360 and feel very lucky - it's used as my main HD-DVD and standard DVD player and has worked flawlessly for 2 years (I don't use it for games at all) but no, I haven't even looked at downloads, for the same reasons I don't buy downloads from iTunes - things crash and I like to know the goods I've paid good money for will always be available. Whether this download appeals to the post-MTV generation (I'm pre-MTV generation) I couldn't say, but it seems the right way to go.

The idea of watching something like "Gone with the Wind" on a mobile phone seems totally ludicrous to me, but is undoubtedly the sort of thing the studios seem to think there is a demand for. And given the number of walkers/bus and tube travellers I see staring and shouting at their mobiles each day I suspect I'd be doing the same if I were a studio!

On a happier note, today's Screen International reports that 2007 was a record year for the British film industry with attendances up on 2006 :)

Anybody else find it slightly odd that MGM have signed a deal with Microsoft, given that Sony led the "consortium" which acquired MGM back in 2005?

Hey Dave - rental, wow I never knew that. I hadn't investigated further than the flashing advertising on the Live service.

Ian, Bay said a lot in his comment, as per the link at the start of the article. Here's the comment in full copied from the previous Filmstalker story:

"What you don't understand is corporate politics. Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads. That is the dirty secret no one is talking about. That is why Microsoft is handing out $100 million dollar checks to studios just embrace the HD DVD and not the leading, and superior Blu Ray. They want confusion in the market until they perfect the digital downloads. Time will tell and you will see the truth."

So you're right, he's claiming that MS were paying for people to go HD-DVD, but at the same time he's saying they want both formats to fail for downloads to work.

I think the real market is going to be PC and game console downloads, the mobile downloads will surely be for smaller TV shows, like you I can't see people watching films on small screen devices - although I have a friend who does, even watches them on his iPhone!

That is good news for British cinema though.

James, I never thought of that before, and it's an interesting observation. What do you make of it?

While a strange decision from Sony, it also makes good business sense.

They know that there are a LOT of XBox 360's worldwide and they cannot take them away from the consumers. They also know that while some people will purchase a PS3 as well as a 360, a lot will decide not to - that they'll stick with their 360 rather than shell out another few hundred pounds/euro/dollars for Sony's console.

So, it makes sense for Sony to try to make money from Microsoft's products as well as their own.

Michael Bay is an idiot. While I enjoy some of his popcorn movies, I have precious little time for him or his views on global companies' business strategies.

I agree wholeheartedly regarding watching movies on a small device. Just look at the failure Sony had in their UMD movie plan. Warner, Paramount and Sony themselves all cut back on the amount of titles released on UMD, and some US stores began pulling them from shelves due to poor sales. And it's hardly surprising that they had such dreadful sales as they were selling the UMD movies in a similar price bracket to that of DVD movies. How did Sony expect people to shell out a premium for a UMD movie and be completely restricted to viewing it only on their PSP? Alternatively, you could purchase the DVD release, acquire free shareware online and have the movie ripped and encoded to .mp4 format, for playback on your portable device (the legalities of this I'm not 100% sure on - it's my belief that if you have purchased a product, you have gained a license to use that product for your own personal entertainment, however that may be; although I'm sure Sony would argue differently.)

I, myself, have an iPod Touch which I do view video on but only for long-haul flights, etc. I would never choose to watch a movie on such a small format as opposed to a proper home cinema setup (or 14" television for that matter!)


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