Why Microsoft’s Netflix DRM Sucks the Big One

Well remember yesterday when I blogged excitingly about the latest Microsoft Media Center Plug in which reportedly allows you to watch Netflix “Watch Now” movies on XBox 360 Media Center Extenders? The one I was going to try out in the next few days?

Well, it might work for you but it isn’t working for me. In fact I can’t even get Netflix “Watch Now” to work on my Vista Media Center PC at all. The reason why I can’t Netflix’s “Watch Now” to work on my Vista Media Center PC?

Yep, you guessed it. DRM. Digital Rights Management. Screwed over by DRM yet again.

Here I am, a law abiding good consumer, paying Netflix for my content, and once again I’m treated like a criminal and not allowed to play legally purchased content on my PC. And this has nothing to do with the plug in that I was trying to install.

It all started early this morning (I got up early because I was super excited about installing Netflix “Watch Now” on my Media Center PC — actually I tried last night but Netflix was offline for maintenance until 2:30am). Before installing the plug in that I blogged about yesterday for Media Center I wanted to make sure that I could first watch Netflix movies in regular old Internet Explorer on my new Vista PC. Since “Watch Now” doesn’t work in Firefox, I launched Windows Explorer and went to Netflix’s website to test a movie.

And here’s where the trouble began (see screenshot below).

Yet Another Reason Why I Hate DRM

Ok, so, My Microsoft DRM needs to be reset. Annoying, but, oh well, ok, why not. Being that I’m fairly adept at using a computer I figured I’d go through the reset by myself with the friendly little utility that was being suggested.

And then I got *this*

Yet Another Reason Why I Hate DRM, Plate 2

Waaiiiiitttt a minute. The Reset Utility may remove licenses to other content using Microsoft DRM? What? So you mean like if I legally paid for a movie from Amazon using Microsoft’s DRM that movie is now going to be toast if I want to get this Netflix thingy up and running. Dude, that sucks. But, on the positive side since I don’t generally buy content with DRM crap, I’m probably ok. Whew. Dodged a bullet on that one. But still that totally sucks. And then I got this (I guess they really want to make sure I’m not going to be upset when none of my other DRM stuff works anymore):

Yet Another Reason Why I Hate DRM, Plate 3

Ok, after that last screen I could almost feel it coming. Any second now and I’d be watching Dexter on my hot new Vista PC — it’s a Dell by the way. Dude I got a Dell.

But… Oh NO MR. BILL!!!!!!!!! Then I got this! Big old sad face for Mr. Thomas Hawk.

Yet Another Reason Why I Hate DRM, Plate 4

Ok, I’m not one to give up easily, so my next call was to Netflix. First off, I told the phone rep I’d be blogging this. I don’t do this to try and get better support, I do this because the father of all blogging Dave Winer said he does it to be fair to the person he’s talking to.

So we tried a bunch of stuff on my computer. Restarting it. Killing processes with control-alt-delete. Running Netflixy stuff from adminstrative mode. etc. etc. And NOTHING would work. Finally the Netflix guy gave up on his end and suggested that it was a problem with my hardware. What? You mean this brand new Dell PC that I bought just a few months back? Yep.

He told me that my problem likely had to do with something called COPP (certified output protection protocol) or HDCP (he wasn’t sure that this was but looked it up and told me that it was High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection). Sounds like fancy names for plain old DRM if you ask me.

He said that the error code that I’d been getting was showing up in other cases as well for some “odd reason,” adding “we’re not actually sure why these videocards are doing this.”

He said I could try a few new things. He recommended that I check with my video card maker to see if there was a more updated driver. He also recommended that I reset the resolution on my monitor to below 1200×800 (presently it’s set at 1920×1200 which he said could be a problem). He also said that instead of using the DVI cable that I’m using that I might want to try a VGA cable. And finally he added that I might need to hook up a second monitor to my PC and run it in dual monitor mode.

Ok, so like the title says. Why Microsoft’s Netflix DRM Sucks the Big One! I still have no Netflix “Watch Now” even though I’m paying for it.

And that cool little Media Center Netflix plug in that I blogged about yesterday? I’m a long, long, way from getting that up and running.

By the way, I’m not the only one that this is happening to. Check out Davis Freeberg’s similar experience with Netflix’s DRM here.

Doesn’t it suck when DRM gets in the way of legitimate use?

Be Sociable, Share!
Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. Technology is grand except when it isn’t

  2. Bill says:

    you know what else sucks about it? If your prefered media center is a Mac Mini you can’t watch Netflix on demand either.

  3. TranceMist says:

    I’m just wondering why you put up with DRM at all.

    Just about everything is available DRM-less. See BitTorrent. 🙂

  4. DRM sucks. It assumes that the consumer is a criminal and tries to regulate what you can do with content that you legally have a right to use.

    I am convinced that companies and artists (Radiohead, NIN, Black Kids) that choose to trust the consumer will be rewarded.

  5. Shawn Oster says:

    A few things…

    Technically you’re not exactly “paying” for the Watch Now feature, they tossed that in for free, your monthly didn’t go up.

    The quality of Watch Now is pretty poor on a TV, I wouldn’t even worry about it if you have a nice HD TV.

    While you can blame Microsoft for enabling DRM it’s the content producers that are squarely to blame for DRM. Any time you have rant against DRM aim the verbal cannon at them, they need to know that more than just whiney teenagers are upset about DRM. They still think anyone with an iPod is a pirate (serioiusly, how ancient are these people?).

    Completely agree with how much DRM sucks, I recently ran into issues with Amazon’s DRM as well and it frustrated me to no end. Nothing makes me want to pirate more than having to deal with DRM.

  6. Bushi says:

    Ah just a side note but being able to run it on media center might be totally irrelevant to getting it to output through the plug in. You should give it a shot before getting bogged down in the other nonsense.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like you have a radeon HD card. And you would have known about this problem if you’d checked their forums. This isn’t hollywood’s fault, or microsoft’s, or netflix’s. This is Radeon’s fault.

    Also, you are not watching content you payed for, so I see no problem with copy protection on these movies.

    Finally, the netflix movies aren’t in HD, so you can switch down to VGA with no loss in quality.

  8. dustin says:

    I just called netflix for my problems with their DRM and they told me that i couldn’t use “watch instantly” because I don’t use a VGA cable to connect my monitor to my computer. “watch instantly” is garbage and DRM fucking sucks

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have Vista. It did a Service Pak 1 upgrade when it felt like it and after that Watch Now didn’t work. Netflix couldn’t help,they tried to reset my DRM also. Microsoft Tech support tried for 3 days. Nothing. I did a system restore to the point before the SP1 was installed and verything worked again. Do you have service pack 1 on your Vista?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just an FYI…you can get around the “Reset DRM Operation Failed” error by stopping the Windows service named “Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service” first.

    This allows the DRM certificates to get wiped out, but if your problem is similar to mine, you’ll still have issues and be unable to play the netflix movies.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I had the exact same experience.

    NetFlix suggested I just go out and buy a different video card.

  12. Bill says:

    Okay, here is the work around I found. Connect a second monitor with a VGA cable and make it your primary. Then watch instantly will work. I have Windows Vista Utimate with SP1 and all the latest patches. Watch instantly will not work with DVI, Component or HDMI.

  13. Chronos56 says:

    Here is another fix.

    For about 3 bucks at Radio Shack you can build one of these: http://tvtool.info/go.htm?http://tvtool.info/english/dummy_e.htm

    If you cannot get 75 ohm resistors 68 ohm works fine.

    Next, log onto your PC and start setting up your new dummy primary display. I had to use a manual flat panel display driver to get the resolution high enough. If your lucky you can get the new display to match your TV’s resolution and then set your display to be the dummy as primary with the secondary as its clone. I had better luck matching display resolution in the Windows display setting window then on ATI’s Catalyst window.

    I am using an ATI card with an adapter from Monoprice that gives me component video out off of my DVI port, for some reason the Digital to HDMI option has ceased to work, something in my JVC HiDef TV. This adapter is cheap, only about $6.00, but only works on certain ATI cards.

    I set the ATI catalyst driver’s video mode to be same on both displays. Once that was in place Netflix started working. Big PIA but glad there was a fix.

  14. solution here!!!!!!!!!!!hey the same thing happened to me i don't know jack shit about computers but for maybe some of you out there like me i called tech support back and they had me close all my browsers,
    click on
    > my computer
    >disk C
    >program files
    >netflix folder
    >netflix movie viewer
    >click on the "reset drm" icon and follow menu
    go back to netflix.com and start your movie again and it will ask you to upgrade or install something which will take about 5 seconds and then your movie will start.

  15. Anonymous says:

    DRM is a slap in the face to all the brave men and women that died fighting for the US and it’s ideals. To remove liberties of individuals is a step toward a partnership with China and like contries.

    God save us.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have problems with Netflix DRM software too, it tends to lock me out for no reason giving me bogus, inaccurate error codes such as “multiple tabs open” when the only tab open is the one that says that.

    I honestly wouldn’t use Netflix if I didn’t get it as a gift. “They” can keep adding DRM to “protect” media all they want, if I’m going to be paying for anything, it’ll be newsgroup access where I at least know that I won’t have such massive problems when performing such trivial operations. I suggest Giganews. It ruins the hopes and dreams of DRM software writers and doesn’t give the end-user too much hassle. Best off, if it doesn’t have what you want, you can add it yourself.

    As far as Netflix mailing me movies, what the hell is the point if the movie is three weeks old by the time I get it? No thanks, I’ll just go to Blockbuster.

    Say no to Netflix, there are superior, cheaper, DRM-free services ran by actual PEOPLE.

  17. J says:

    I had the same problem and fixed it by doing this first and then using the netflix tool:
    1. Goto your windows explorer
    2. Click tools
    3 Click folder options
    4. Click the view tab
    5. Set Hidden Files and Folders to Show Hidden Files and Folders.
    6. Uncheck Hide Protected Operating System Files
    7. Use netflix tool
    8. You are done!

  18. nadia says:

    Download Starlight by microsoft older version will allow video to play for Netflix

  19. It is very difficult to tell someone to forget the past and let it go when you were in fear of your life because of the those racist views. It was ingrained in you. The generation that is coming up now, likely will not carry those same feelings or views because of the so-called changes in society, however, to expect those who have been tramatized throughout their life and family history by this bigotted country cannot just turn off the switch because society all of a sudden felt it is better to not enforce racism outwardly anymore.( Although those feelings have obviously not vanished among some in this country.) Black people who have experienced much racism in either their lives or been exposed to it through the medias portrayal of blacks can see that racism is STILL alive and well today. It is beautiful that now people are able to identify on job applications and on the census bureau what their ethnic make up is. They couldnt do it in the past. Now Im sure blacks back then could say amongst themselves what their background was (some didnt have to because living in the same community they wouldve known) but in the end the country still viewed them as black. They had to just accept that. The generations now coming up wont have to. They can now proudly say that they are not only black but white, native american,etc., However, at the end of the day, black people know that no matter what their ethnic makeup is if one of those is black they will never be viewed as an equal. Yes, even today, if you are not considered white society will still think you are lazy, violent, ignorant, loud, ugly, fried chicken and watermelon eatin, etc.Sad but trueJust be proud of who and what you are. Only remember, that for many generations in this country blacks were not allowed to feel that way for themselves or their culture. So, dont get upset if they feel proud of anyone of african ancestry who is doing well and proving that they are more than what the world portrays them to be. This comment is offensive