Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Defective By Design: Netflix + Microsoft, Part Deux

Some companies never learn.

Not so long ago I ran into Microsoft DRM trying to watch a Netflix movie on an HD screen. Back then, I got away with some aggravation, few days of wasted time, some dollars spent on extra hardware - turned out that you had to have a digital connection, and that, in turn, ran smack dab into a TV hardware incompatibility issue. In other words, it was a pain I didn't have to go through except for brain dead decision of Netflix management to tie the knot with Microsoft.

And they're at it again.

Couple of days ago I wanted to watch a movie - and guess what, the quality you can get out of a thirty year old VHS tape is crystal clear in comparison to the quality I got. The movie was simply unwatchable. It was difficult to distinguish people in the movie, forget about facial expression. Titles were unreadable.

Why could that be?

A!!! I know. That's another round of Microsoft involvement - the Silverlight player. Oh, and the best part? They're laying off customer service, judging by description, not the tier-one drones, but tier-N specialists.

Damn, I should've known.

Some time ago, I almost ran out of Gillette Sensor Excel blades. Went to the store to restock, and, to my horror, found that all the blades from the new batch are significantly inferior to few leftovers that I still had. The reason was simple: Gillette was introducing the new Fusion series - which were not better by any stretch of imagination than the old Sensor Excel blades, but they had whopping five and a half blades instead of two, and, most importantly, there were fewer blades in the pack, and the pack was more expensive than the old one. The only option was to abandon Gillette brand completely and switch to the competition, but since there's a scarce supply of that where I live, I'm stuck with paying more for less.

Just like here - if I don't want to upgrade to Silverlight (which I have no intention of doing, thank you, it was more than good enough already), I'm screwed.

Well, speaking about money...

So, really, what do I do to Netflix to get back what they tried to fix that wasn't broken? Threaten them with cancelling my $1x.99 a month account? Yeah, sure, that's gonna scare them...

On the other hand, what's my loss? Significant. Acquisition decisions were made based on projected availability of high definition streaming from Netflix, in a range of several thousand dollars. Now it all crumbles apart, for they're pushing their inferior hardware that I have no intention of buying because it doesn't do what I want, and, again, Microsoft's Xbox 360, which I'm not going to buy on principle.

So, really, what are my options?

Hmm... Let me see... What is out there that

  • provides high definition content, in any resolution
  • has wide title selection
  • has wide format selection
  • comes with subtitles
  • is cost efficient
  • with availability that doesn't depend on content provider's whim (oh, by the way, did you notice that a lot of Netflix instant titles are now "available until $date"?)

What? Wait, you said it, not me...

Give me back my $1x.99 a month and go play in your own sandbox, and I'll be playing in mine.

UPDATE: this article might explain why titles are being pulled off Netflix instant play availability list.

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