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Microsoft Films & TV, previously known as Xbox Video, is Microsoft's answer to other video-on-demand services like Google Play and Amazon Video. Having existed in one form or another since 2006, the online video store has changed significantly in response to evolving technology and the popularity of other streaming services, abandoning its Xbox exclusivity to bring its extensive catalogue of movies and TV shows to a wide array of home and mobile devices.
Like most video-on-demand services, Microsoft Films & TV supports both the buying and renting of its video content. Once paid for, videos can be downloaded or streamed over the Internet to supported devices. Purchased titles can be watched whenever you like, as many times as you like, while rentals must be watched within 14 days of payment, and once you hit play, you'll only have 24 hours to watch before your rental licence expires.
Along with offering the latest episodes of hit US TV shows like Supergirl and Legion the day after they air in America, Microsoft Films & TV features plenty of blockbuster movies hot off their showings on the silver screen. Titles like Trolls and Underworld: Blood Wars, both just a few months old, are already available for purchase, with Logan and Rogue One up for pre-order. Many competing services won't get these movies for another year or more.
As with all video-on-demand stores, prices can vary considerably from title to title. Recent blockbusters like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Finding Dory are only available to purchase outright, running $19.99 for standard definition (SD) quality or $24.99 for high definition (HD) quality. Other titles like The Accountant and The Magnificent Seven also offer rental options at $5.99 for SD and $6.99 for HD.
Prices start to drop once a movie has been out for a while, with Deadpool purchasable at $13.99 SD/$14.99 HD and Jurassic World going for $10.99 SD/$14.99 HD. Some titles may drop even lower than that.
TV shows span a similarly broad spectrum of pricing tiers. Individual episodes tend to stick to $2.99 for SD and $3.99 for HD, while full seasons run the gamut from $16.99 SD/$19.99 HD for Sherlock's three-part first season to $44.99 SD/$49.99 HD and up for the latest season of something like Supergirl. Unlike movies, TV shows cannot be rented.
Savvy consumers will want to keep an eye out for regular sales at the Microsoft Films & TV store. Popular movies often receive discounts of 30% or more, selling for as little as $7.99 SD in some cases. TV shows, too, enjoy sizeable price cuts, with $29.99 seasons dropping to $19.99 for a limited time.
Alongside sales, Microsoft also occasionally runs free film weekends, making a select movie available for free rental through Saturday and Sunday.
As convenient as on-demand streaming is, the technology isn't without its shortcomings. Whether you're going on a long road trip or spending the weekend out in the boonies, sometimes you just don't have the luxury of a constant Internet connection. Fortunately, Microsoft Films & TV lets you download your purchases to your Windows and Xbox devices through its dedicated app, which is perfect for commuters on public transport or people with slower Internet connections who don't want their streams constantly stopping to buffer.
Purchases can be downloaded up to five times across separate Windows and Xbox devices. However, it's important to note that rentals can only be watched on the device they were rented for.
Born out of its video game heritage, Xbox Live Rewards is a customer loyalty program designed to reward customers for engaging with Microsoft's ecosystem. By completing "missions" – tasks like filling out surveys, pre-ordering upcoming titles and purchasing optional content in free-to-play games – users receive Rewards Credits which can then be converted into their local currency and added to their Microsoft account. That money can then be spent on more movies, TV shows, apps or games within the Microsoft Store.
Aside from a broadband Internet connection and a valid Microsoft account, users must own a supported Windows device to enjoy Microsoft Films & TV. The official Films & TV app will run only on a Windows 10 PC, an Xbox One console or an Xbox 360 console. Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8 users can access their libraries through the Xbox Video app. Older Windows operating systems and non-Microsoft devices are not supported through the Films & TV app and will need to use the web-based video player.
To play, browse and purchase video content outside of the Films & TV app, you'll need a compatible web browser. Currently, that means Internet Explorer version 10 or higher, Mozilla Firefox version 18 or higher, Google Chrome version 24 or higher, or Safari version 6.0 or higher. You'll also need to have at least version 5 of Microsoft Silverlight installed.
If you're looking to pick up an Xbox One, check out our Video Game Console Comparison tool to find the best price.
Both streaming and downloading video content through Microsoft Films & TV will count against your monthly data allowance, but Microsoft does not provide hard figures for exactly how much data is consumed. Using other streaming services as a guide, though, you can expect to chew through around 1GB of data per hour for an SD stream, and around 1.5–3GB per hour for an HD stream. On the download side, different file compression algorithms and bit-rates mean data usage is less consistent than streaming, but on average, downloaded video content will take up slightly more space than equivalent streaming options.
There are thousands of movies and TV shows available through Microsoft Films & TV, spanning everything from big-budget blockbusters like X-Men Apocalypse to sci-fi classics like Back to the Future. Many titles also include bonus features similar to DVD and Blu-ray offerings, packing director's commentary, deleted scenes and exclusive interviews with cast and crew.
For serious movie buffs, Microsoft Films & TV also sells a number of movie bundles, making it even easier to marathon the entire Harry Potter series with Harry Potter Complete or blast through all six X-Men movies with The X-Men Collection.
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