I get pretty excited about TV moving online and then run up against another technical wall and realize that things just are never “just around the corner”.
I was experimenting with Xbox Live Marketplace, checking out the movie listings and marvelling at the need to purchase points to view a flick and Microsoft’s unabashed hubris when it comes to owning a category.
But since this is my job I jumped through all the hoops – using my Microsoft Live ID (not used for anything else) to log in, create a “gamer” name, purchase a small amount of points, chose a movie from the dismal selection (~400 movies, mostly old), and right through to the end when it asks me to choose my Xbox.
Now, as a person doing this for a living, I take careful note of all the warnings, pop-up boxes, how they craft their consumer communication and all things usability-oriented. But not once did the website suggest that you had to have an Xbox to download the movies.
If you work at Microsoft, you may be snickering now, thinking that I was naive to believe that I could download on my MICROSOFT powered PC.
But it gets better. Since there were no warnings on the site, I figured I’d just ask for my money back. But when I called, the call rep response essentially boiled down to: “but you already purchased the product”.
What he’s saying, but probably doesn’t know, is that the DRM keys to this movie were downloaded – TO MY PC – when I purchased it. And even though I never downloaded the movie, he can’t give me my money back because they have no technical ability to reclaim the keys.
And even though I have no Xbox in my house, I now have 60 MSFT points and the keys to a car I can’t drive.
I wish I didn’t have to run across this kind of can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-technology problems every day, and that more uncompromising product guys were around to see that every part of their service functioned so that it made sense to a consumer (yes, Steve Jobs – did you have a better suggestion?).
When that happens, the computer will cease being “technology” and just be the thing that I was after – movies, TV, concert tickets, a way to talk to friends, something you don’t have to reboot.