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).
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*
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):
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.
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?