Xbox 'Gold membership' no longer required to watch Netflix, etc.

Xbox 'Gold membership' no longer required to watch Netflix, etc.

Xbox 'Gold membership' no longer required to watch Netflix, etc.

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by RENAY SAN MIGUEL, KING5 News/ Gannett Affiliate

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 14 at 11:28 AM

When you play the Forza Motorsport game on an Xbox One, you can make sudden shifts in direction and speed with your virtual car, and your controller will help you feel every bump and rumble.

It must have felt a lot like that in Redmond on Tuesday.

That's when Microsoft announced that beginning June 9, it would start selling a $399 version of the Xbox One - a version without the Kinect motion control technology that was locked into the $499 launch version.

The company also said it would not require a $60 annual membership in its Xbox Live Gold service before you can access popular apps like Netflix and Hulu on your Xbox One.

These new moves were necessary because Sony's new Playstation 4, which was $399 at launch, has been outselling the Xbox One. But the changes also represent more evidence of a new day in Microsoft's Redmond, WA. headquarters.

I've been covering this company for nearly two decades, and I've never seen more gear-shifting and strategy tweaking than I have in the past couple of years. I'm sure it's a realization that the game has indeed changed for the company - even in gaming, which has been one of its few bright spots as personal computer sales dwindled and it's been forced to play catch-up in the mobile space.

I'm seeing a Microsoft that's more willing to admit and correct mistakes - if not by word, then at least by deed. It's been more open-minded about strategy shifts. I have no idea if Tuesday's announcement was dictated by new CEO Satya Nadella, but as someone who has worked with various media relations teams from the company over the years, I coudn't help notice that Microsoft had a video featuring key Xbox players Phil Spencer and Yusuf Mehdi deployed on websites and YouTube on Tuesday.

Yes, the video spoke more about giving customers "options" and "choices," which is standard corporate language for "we can ready industry sales reports just like everyone else." But there was another audience for that video, and it's the developers who Microsoft needs to keep writing games that use the Kinect technology.

"We'll continue to innovate on Kinect," Spencer said on the video. "I think that's an important differentiator for us, but I also know that there are people out there who want to make that choice when they want to make it.'

It also wasn't fair to charge $60 for an Xbox Live Gold membership before you paid a monthly Netflix fee, or any of the other app subscription fees, before accessing them on an Xbox One. It was something Microsoft had to do to make sure the Xbox One becomes the living room entertainment hub that it was touted to be during launch.

Believe me, the Microsoft I knew from the 1990s and early 2000's was a lot different when it came to mistakes and strategy shifts. The company became a huge aircraft carrier. Those don't exactly turn on a dime, something that smaller, nimbler companies are able to do.

Microsoft will never be a startup again. But maybe it's trying to act like one anyway.

 

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