Microsoft has launched Xbox Video online, expanding the streaming media service from Windows 8.1 PCs and Xbox One to the web, ahead of its expected arrival on Windows Phone. The new site supports consumption of both previously purchased content - once you've logged into your account - and buying new media through the webstore, which can then be played back on a PC, Windows tablet, or Xbox. However, there are a few drawbacks to the new web version, which Microsoft has confirmed will also impact the smartphone release.
Key among those is picture quality. "HD Quality playback is not currently supported on the Web and Windows Phone" Microsoft warns when you try to purchase an HD movie or TV show. "Your purchase will play in SD quality. Xbox Video on Windows 8.1 and Xbox One supports HD quality playback."
The news is disappointing given Full HD resolution support has not long been enabled in Windows Phone. Though so far only the Nokia Lumia 1520 - which we reviewed earlier this month, finding its 6-inch panel perfect for multimedia consumption - actually has a 1920 x 1080 display, it's likely to get similarly-specified competition very soon.
That such displays will be working with standard definition content seems a missed opportunity, though it will keep bandwidth consumption down. Still, with HD supported on both iTunes purchases on iOS, and Google Play purchases on Android, it's a mark against Windows Phone and something we'd like to see addressed with at least the option to switch between quality levels.
There's time for Microsoft to change it - after all, the company does say "currently supported" about the SD limitation - and broader access to content bought on Xbox One or Windows 8.1 is certainly welcome. You'll need the Silverlight plugin for your browser in order to access the streams.
VIA The Verge