If you're one of the estimated 1.5 Million XBox 360 users here in the U.S., then this article from the Los Angeles Times may inspire you to cries of joy and elation. Following in the footsteps of Apple Computer, with its hugely successful iTunes store, and as a preemptive blow to Sony's PS3 console being released in two weeks, Microsoft announced agreements with networks and studios like CBS, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. to bring an initial slate of over 1000 hours of movies and TV shows to its XBox 360 gaming console for download by users.

Beginning on November 22 (its one year anniversary) XBox 360 will be the first console in history to offer downloads of not only standard-def programming, but also hi-def as well. Some of the programming being offered by Microsoft initially with this deal includes the feature films The Matrix, Superman Returns, Batman Forever, Mission Impossible 3, Nacho Libre and Jackass: The Movie. Some of the TV shows initially being offered include Aqua Teen Hunger ForceJerico and CSI -- for those of you who watch TV.

Regarding the announcement, Peter Moore, a VP at Microsoft for interactive development said: "This groundbreaking announcement is a win for everyone. It connects our partners with one of the most coveted audiences in entertainment today, and provides even greater value to our Xbox Live community, allowing them to enjoy the games and entertainment they want, when they want it." Man, that does sound cool, doesn't it? Although, with no mention of pricing, restrictions (or much else) in the announcement, it remains to be seen if this will end up being a good move for Microsoft or not.

When Apple started offering movies and TV shows for download, they already had an established store for music with iTunes and were taking the next logical steps by offering more content to their already impressively large user base. Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't have this key advantage. They do have something in place with their XBox Live service, but that's hardly the same as what Apple had with the iTunes store. Plus, with the size of hi-def video files, how long are these movies and TV shows going to take to download -- all night? Probably. I don't know if I'm willing to wait that long and I'll bet I'm not the only one.

After seeing the announcement, I feel this is another case where Microsoft is "too little, too late" to a party that's already started without them. Just because you're the biggest kid on the block doesn't mean you're the smartest. Steve Jobs and company at Apple are some of the smartest in the business and with iTunes, I think Microsoft has a fight on its hands that it just won't be able to win in the log run -- even if they technically are first with content that can play directly to your TV from the XBox 360 console.

Although, as an Apple, iTunes and XBox 360 user, I look forward to the advantages that this kind of competition will surely bring. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will get it right. They did do a very good job with the XBox 360 console so anything is possible. And hey, maybe they can distribute the often-delayedHalo movie this way? It could happen.

So, is this a good move for Microsoft,or not?
categories Movies, Cinematical