Microsoft’s 4K Content Services Are Growing But With A Couple Of Crazy Defects
Stephan Jukic – June 4, 2018
Microsoft has been steadily building a collection of 4K ultra HD and HDR movies and other content on its Microsoft Store and through the Movies Anywhere app for different devices with Windows 10 and for the Xbox platform. And to be fair to Microsoft, the selection of all content on offer from them has indeed been growing quite nicely between late 2017 and now. There are even some offerings that you won’t find on much more established 4K content services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix.
However, Microsoft’s content service does still suffer from issues which include regional restrictions, upgrade problems and support defects for the Movies Anywhere service in particular. Now obviously enough, as anyone who’s used Netflix or Amazon while travelling knows, these issues are definitely not specific to Microsoft, but they’re still worth mentioning.
The U.S version of the Microsoft Store’s Movies & TV section is indeed downright excellent in terms of selection. From a total of barely 30 titles in late 2017, the full selection as of today stands at over 200 different titles available for purchase, streaming, rental or download. That’s fantastic and as far as we’ve seen, Microsoft is making a diligent effort to include pretty much every single new release movies from any major studio so long as it’s available in 4K UHD. Some titles are even almost exclusive to the Microsoft Store, with no availability for their 4K versions on either Apple’s iTunes or Amazon’s Prime service.
Best of all, the Microsoft Store 4K content selection contains a good blend of both old and new titles, with Black Panther (2018), or titles for much of the 2010’s sitting next to 4K editions of classic films like, The Matrix (1999), E.T (1982) or Goodfellas (1990). This is a serious bonus, especially when some HDR mastering is also included in numerous films, for those of us who have 4K HDR televisions at home.
On the other hand, if you’re accessing the Microsoft Store and Movies & TV from outside the U.S.A, then things take a huge turn for the worse as far as 4K content goes. Namely, there’s none to speak of, even in major markets like the U.K, and never mind other countries. Again however, Microsoft isn’t alone here. Vudu, iTunes, Google Play and even Amazon Prime all also offer virtually no 4K content to non-U.S customers at this time. Only Netflix seems to be kicking some ass on this front with its original series and movies shot in 4K at least being available worldwide.
Moving onto the Movies Anywhere DRM service, which is available for users of Amazon, VUDU, Google Play and iTunes, things for Microsoft go bad again. Movies Anywhere is a sort of cross-platform locker service that lets its users buy or rent movies on one service and stream them via other services.
Thus, if you got yourself a 4K movie through Microsoft’s Movies & TV listings, you could theoretically stream it through Google Play or other participating platforms mentioned above. But oh wait, no actually you can’t, because for whatever reason, Microsoft still hasn’t joined up fully with Movies Anywhere and while the company claims to be “in discussions with Movies Anywhere” about how to make this work, for now, users of both services are out of luck on cross-platform streaming of their otherwise excellent collection of Microsoft 4K content.
As far as other aspects of Microsoft’s 4K content offerings go, some things are good and others not quite so much. For starters, Microsoft has indeed made finding content that’s specifically 4K much easier thanks to a special new category called “4K UHD”, where most of their UHD selections are listed. Searching with the keywords “4K UHD” in the general Movies & TV menu bar also produces the same sort of result by other means but with some additional titles that aren’t listed under the 4K UHD category itself, oddly enough.
Other benefits of the Movies & TV library in general include a description which states that a given title is available in 4K UHD if that’s the case. In other words, finding all of Microsoft’s 4K content is easier than ever on the service.
On the other hand, Microsoft hasn’t given its users a way of upgrading any of their existing titles to 4K UHD if they’ve already bought lower resolution versions of them. This is unfortunate because it means a lot of extra spending for those of you who want that upgrade for your new UHD TV. Not only can you not do this upgrade free of charge in the way iTunes users can for 4K versions of their existing HD content selections, you’re also not even offered an option for doing it by paying the difference in cost.
This alone is dumb, but another thing Microsoft has failed to do takes the above problem to an abysmally stupider new level: this being the bizarre fact that if you already own an HD version of a film, you’re literally not even capable of buying the 4K version if at full price when it becomes available, even if it’s right there in front of you. We’re assuming something this idiotic can’t possibly be intentional since it actually means LESS money for Microsoft.
For those content selections you haven’t already been locked out of because you already own their HD versions, the prices of all possible 4K content are also on the steep side. 4K titles start at $24.99 and can range up to $29.99 from there. iTunes beats Microsoft on this front as well.
So there you have it, Microsoft’s Movies & TV 4K options are definitely getting enormously better in terms of selection as long as you’re located or VPN’d in the U.S but the defects of the service are there, and in the case of upgrades to 4K content, really annoying too.
Story by 4k.com