As I reported before, Microsoft was going to start providing downloads of select movies and TV programs to users of its XBox 360 gaming console through its XBox Live service. Well, the day finally came and the results, while impressive due to the sheer number of sales, were not without their share of problems. According to Variety, Microsoft went live with the service on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and it wasn't long before message boards, and Microsoft phones and emails, were jammed with complaints of slow download speeds, missing programs, being charged multiple times for the same program and other problems.

Microsoft responded quickly (especially for Microsoft) to the complaints with postings on its public message boards that it was aware of the problems and was working on fixes. But insiders at the software giant report that Microsoft vastly underestimated the amount of sales, especially of High Def programming from the WB, CBS and others, and so was ill-prepared for the incredibly large amount of bandwidth needed to download that much High-Def content. However, by Sunday Microsoft reported at its website that "download speeds for most users should be significantly improved across the board." After that announcement, according to the Variety article, online complaints dropped to almost nothing. In addition to improved download speeds after a few days, Microsoft also announced plans to offer refunds or "make-goods" for users encountering problems -- which is a good move on their part.

So, score one for Microsoft. Even if they have problems in other areas of their business and are often accused of being an evil company bent on world domination, they got it right with the Xbox 360. As a user of the console, I appreciate it's impressive design and how well it works. Also, I happened to download one or two programs on Friday afternoon (The Matrixand Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn if you want to know which ones) and although the download speed was glacially slow, once I finally got the content, it made for a very impressive viewing experience. If Microsoft really can work out the glitches and is able to expand its content to include a great deal more movies and TV programs, companies like Apple who seek to offer competing services might really have a problem on their hands. Who knows, maybe Microsoft really will become king of the living room?
categories Movies, Cinematical