Microsoft has been pretty busy recently in its efforts to turn the Xbox family of consoles into hardware that appeals to AV fans as well as gamers. We’ve recently had the addition of Dolby Vision HDR support, the addition of Dolby Atmos sound for games as well as movies, as well as 4K Blu-ray players built into Xbox One S and X.
All of which has started to make Microsoft’s Movie & TV Store look something of a weak link in the AV chain – especially in territories outside the US. The number of 4K HDR titles supported has remained limited after a promising start, and actually the movie selection as a whole has felt limited versus rival platforms.
So it comes as great news today to learn that Microsoft is joining the Movies Anywhere platform, for both its Xbox and Windows 10 devices.
Movies Anywhere is a digital movie store supported by most of the major movie studios that lets you ‘share’ movies you’ve bought across different tech platforms. So, for instance, if you get a digital movie code with a Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray, you’ll be able to watch the film across any services that support Movies Anywhere. These currently include iTunes, VUDU, Google Play Movies, Amazon Video, FandangoNow and, soon, Microsoft.
All you need to do is link your Microsoft Account to a Movies Anywhere account, and all your Movies Anywhere titles will appear in the Microsoft Movies & TV app. Similarly, films you buy through the Microsoft app will be available across other devices. And through the dedicated Movies Anywhere app.
While this is mostly great news, though, it’s important to stress that it does come with a trio of strings attached. First, Movies Anywhere continues to only be available in the US. So this new feature will not currently be any use elsewhere.
Second, Movies Anywhere does not currently support 4K or HDR. It’s HD and SDR only. Though slightly confusingly, eligible UHD Digital Copy codes should still give you a UHD HDR version of a film if your ‘connected Digital Retailer’ supports it.
Finally, while most film studios are on board with Movies Anywhere, there are still a couple of key hold outs: Paramount and Lionsgate.
Hopefully all of these limitations – especially the US-only one – will get worked out in the not too distant future. But even as the Movies Anywhere situation stands, Microsoft’s decision to get onboard with it seems nothing but sensible.
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