I’ve had a Microsoft Media Center set up in my home now for several years. I’ve got a media center PC in the basement which is connected to three XBox 360 extender units. One in my bedroom, one in my sons’ bedroom and one in the living room. These units stream OTA HDTV that I get from a TV Tuner. They also stream my music and photos. I like this functionality with my XBoxes.
I also use the DVD drive in my XBoxes to play movies that I get from my Netflix subscription.
What I don’t do with my XBox 360s is play games. I have no time for video games. I’m trying to publish a million photos before I die. When I’m not spending time with my family or shooting or processing or doing other internet stuff, I’m definitely not gaming. My kids play games a little, but even then they are not *that* into it, they certainly don’t use XBox Live. What we mostly use our XBox 360s for is for streaming media in our home. And while I understand that this is not really the primary reason why this device was created, they work well for this generally speaking.
One thing I *hate* about my XBoxes though is that Microsoft forces me to have an XBox Live Gold account in order to stream my already paid for Netflix content. Sony Playstation doesn’t require an XBox Live Gold subscription to stream Netlix. the wii doesn’t require an XBox Live Gold subscription to stream Netflix. The Roku doesn’t require an XBox Live Gold subscription to stream Netflix. Apparently there are tons of other devices, blue ray DVD players, etc., none of which require a tax to stream Netflix. I’m guessing that the new streaming options on the upcoming Google TV and Apple’s new revamped Apple TV aren’t going to require an XBox Live Gold account either.
It seems like Microsoft is the only company that wants to screw over Netflix subscribers. So why does Microsoft insist on boning me $60 a year to watch the Netflix that I already pay for on their device? They were charging me $50 a year to watch my already paid for content but then two days ago I got this friendly greedy email from the XBox Live Team rubbing salt into the wound letting me know that they were going to start charging me even more:
Thank you for being a valued member of Xbox LIVE Gold. We hope you are enjoying the many exciting and exclusive features that are included in your membership. We wanted to let you know about an upcoming price increase for your Xbox LIVE Gold subscription and how you can lock in your current price to continue enjoying everything you’ve come to love about Xbox LIVE, plus all the upcoming additions, including ESPN and Hulu Plus.
Besides launching the new features and titles, we will also be increasing the price of Gold membership on November 1, 2010. The new prices are as follows:
Old Price New Price
1-Month Gold Subscription $7.99 $9.99
3-Month Gold Subscription $19.99 $24.99
12-Month Gold Subscription $49.99 $59.99
If the renewal date on your current subscription is on or after November 1, 2010, your subscription will automatically renew at the new price, charged to the credit card we currently have on file for your account.
In my case, I’m generally happy with using the Microsoft Media Center platform to consume media in my home. But I’m not happy about paying a Microsoft tax in order to consume already paid for content.
So I won’t be renewing my XBox Live Gold account. I want to put my XBox 360s up for sale on eBay, but first I have to figure out a better overall media streaming strategy for my home. I’m hoping that Google TV will actually do a lot of what I’d like to do as my life seems to be moving more and more to Google products anyways.
I might even be able to put up with Microsoft’s lame $60 tax except for the fact that they insist on charging me $60 per year for each unit. Yes, that’s right, $180 per year to consume paid for Netflix content on these devices. This greedy move on Microsoft’s part is short sighted. I’m sure I’m just a blip on the radar and they probably don’t care one iota about screwing over home media non-gamer enthusiasts with their tax.