Zune Video on Xbox Live Could Finish Blu-Ray

E3 2009 had tons of surprises, but one that appears to have been truly over looked, has to be the so called 1080p HD technology Xbox Live has introduced through their new Zune video store. Folks at E3 witnessed Microsoft instantly fast forward a streamed 1080p movie right at start up. But how could this be possible? How can a streamed 1080p movie have instant access to every point of the movie? Doesn’t it need to buffer that huge file? After seeing this at E3, we here at TQcast have been really eager to learned more about this 1080p instant streaming. Could this be Blu-Ray’s true competitor? Or perhaps the beginning of the end for Blu-Ray? Let’s face it, why can’t Microsoft sell this same technology to other content distributors, such as Netflix. Or better yet, collaborate with them to create the biggest HD streaming option for consumers, while having the biggest movie library.

TQcast recently interviewed Michael Wolf, Senior Marketing Manager at Microsoft, about the upcoming Zune Video on Xbox Live.

Q: What is the name of the new HD streaming technology?

A: The name of the feature is Zune video on Xbox LIVE, which is built on top of Smooth Streaming. Smooth Streaming is a feature of IIS Media Services, a state-of-the-art video delivery platform which enables amazing high quality video experiences that are instant on.

Q: Exactly how is this 1080p HD experience working? 1080p video would be huge files, requiring large amounts of bandwidth, how will this work without buffering timeouts?

A: Zune video offers entertainment content available in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace in instant on 1080p video and 5.1 channel surround sound. Zune video on Xbox LIVE was built from the ground-up for Xbox 360 to take full advantage of the Xbox platform. It features a state-of-the-art encoder for the highest level of fidelity and a high performance decoder capable of full-framerate 1080p playback, which enables Smooth Streaming playback, smooth fast-forward and smooth rewind functionality. Instant on 1080p offers a level of quality and performance only previously seen with downloadable or physical media.

Q: Moving to any part of the movie, as forward, back, how is this possible if the movie has not completely buffered?

A: This is possible because of the proprietary technology developed by Microsoft. The state-of-the-art encoder allows for the highest level of fidelity and a high performance decoder enables full-framerate 1080p playback, which results in Smooth Streaming playback, smooth fast-forward and smooth rewind functionality.

Q: Will 360 owners need the fastest internet connection possible? Will this work on a slower broadband connection such as a “1.5Mbps DL” connection?

A: The beauty of the experience is movies and TV shows on Zune video will automatically scale to the best possible resolution based on the speed of your connection. For example, if you have a 6 Mbps connection, you’ll still get 1080p and a great audio experience, but may not get 5.1. And as a back-up, anyone can have a 1080p/5.1 experience, but they may be required to download the content instead of streaming it if they don’t have an 8 – 10 Mbps broadband connection.

Q: Pricing. Will the consumers be able to purchase and then access the movies at anytime directly from Zune video? Or will it only be a one-time rent, and if so, what will the prices be?

A: With the launch of Zune video, you’ll have the option to rent a broad selection of content how and when you want: either instant streaming or download to rent, so you can watch even when you aren’t connected to the internet. Prices vary by region, but will be competitive in each market.

Although it would be a shame to think that Blu-Ray may be in deep trouble, let’s face it. If the pricing is as competitive as they state it will be, perhaps per monthly plan to match or even beat those of netflix, or even a single rent price to match that of red box’s $1 price. We could be seeing a huge lean towards 1080p streaming in the near future. And perhaps the nail to the coffin of HD physical Media. All we can hope for now, is a Blu-Ray universal price cut ASAP.

  • Chase

    The PlayStation store has way more movies than the Xbox Marketplace, plus if game demos take ages to download then I highly doubt that its going be as stream less as you think, and trust me it won’t be cheap unless they have the 15 monthly payment you can do for the zune, and thats kinda steep.

  • Nightcougar

    The only thing that i didn’t like about this article is the title. How can something on the xbox finish off blu-ray which spans beyond consoles and is growing at a very high rate?

    Blu-ray is here to stay because the world just isn’t ready for full digital downloads yet

  • commonsense

    Ok I’m going to put my bluray disc of 300 and watch the movie again this night… oh… but the 360 users will have to pay to watch it AGAIN because their “BD killer” format can’t be owned

  • JohnnyTravel

    What’s with the title of this article? How can a subscription-based technology (XBL) that relies on another subscription-based service (ISP) – offering scalable-to-your connection streaming video ‘finish’ a physical disc-based medium with a consistent format.

    How about you rename your article I [heart] 360.

  • How many ppl have a high speed connection? how many xbox 360 owners have a high speed to stream 1080p movies you saw the live demo but it just can’t be translated to real life for now, and Blu-Ray isn’t just about 1080p movies, even if they can stream 1080p movies they will have to rely on multiple discs for games or they can play via streaming (onlive thing of the future) imagine Gears of war 2 stream play… maybe in the future… but for now Blu-Ray is the thing…

  • Phos

    There are more people with HD set ups than High Speed Internet. I know people that don’t have cell phones/ internet but have HD TVs. All this “might finish bluray” shit is stupid.

  • SmielmaN

    Well, I really don’t see how the general public would shift to streaming media for a nominal fee over having the physical product in a collection of their own. $ 0.99 song downloads on iTunes and $5 PSN and XBL games are one thing but if you are one of the home theatre/HD enthusiasts who takes pride in their setup then you will not give up the opportunity to own a particular blu ray disc. Plus, with a 30-40% hardware failure rate why in gods name would a enthusiast pin his/her HD rig around a 360. That would be ridiculous in my opinion. I think Sony learned from their beta blunder and will cement blu ray in the market for many years to come as they did for the DVD format. Except Sony is the owner of the blu ray tech which means they will make much more money as popularity grows, which it has. I mean, people don’t even know that certains blu ray players can have their firmware updated!! These people are going to understand this “pay us ‘x’ and you can what ‘x’ for 5 days. Please. Sony is going to make a lot of money starting this Christmas as everyone is learning that HD tv plus blu ray equals 100x better then the movie theatre. I agree with the previous poster, you should just have a picture of yourself with bill gates giving him the “Dutch rudder”. LOL. PSN ID: SmielmaN

  • lee mitchell

    yup a digital hd video is going replace blu ray as well as digital media is going to replace dvds…come on…blu ray is here to stay…people keep trying to come up with solutions to get rid of it but people should be looking to blu ray being the sole king atop the mountain…the less competition the lower the blu ray prices can fall,the lower the blu ray prices fall and the demand for them…the cheaper the ps3 will become…psn id evilpizzacandy

  • Joe

    Sounds like someone still hasnt got over the HD Wars. Just o remind you again, you lost.

  • lol

    Lmfao, no.

  • R12

    ROFL good one. This site will be saying this for about 10 years desperately trying to get hits. You guys are so simple minded.

    I mean seriously, since when did Xbox 360 = the entire movie owner fanbase? You can’t tell me people who go out and buy movies to watch ALL own 360s. If anything, they’re buying PS3 instead since it delivers the TOP HD quality or they’re using something else BUT Xbox 360. 360 still uses dvd, no one is buying it to watch movies like PS3 which strengthens how much this site and this article fails.

  • will

    the guy whos answering is avoiding the questions lol. Hes trying to hide the fact that you its all based on connection so no one is gonna have that kind of quality. not even fios. have fun trying to kill blu-ray.

  • ra3v3r

    A lot of the comments don’t really seem to be getting the point of the article. At no point does it say it will kill it, but it does say it “could finish blu-ray”. The author is right, and so are many of the comments on this page.

    I agree that at this moment in time not everyone has a fast enough broadband connection. In the UK the fastest connection most people can achieve is about 2Meg with city folk getting up to 50Meg via a cable line (I currently have a 20Meg connection via copper wire). However, once the majority of people have the ability to take advantage of increased speeds, this service could really take off and overtake physical media as a viable option.

    The article says the media is only available to rent at the moment, but there is no reason why owning the media couldn’t be an option at a later date – think of an online repository with password access to all of your media.

    If we are able to download it, what stops Microsoft allowing users to connect a portable media drive to their current and future systems? Current drive prices are dropping quicker than a hookers underwear and in the UK I can pick up a terrabyte for under £100. Thats a lot of storage space for considerably less money than several blu-ray discs (currently averaging £25 in the UK). A lot of people also own media drives which connect straight to their TV. Give them hi-def capabilities and what’s to stop it becoming a blu-ray killer?

    I understand some people like owing DVDs/Blu-Ray and seeing their collection lined up on their shelves but how many people have lost a disc and actually just have an empty box up there? I know I have and I for one would welcome the ability to store or stream content straight to my TV. P2P is the first step towards direct to drive content, this could be the next step in the online evolution. I bet people thought VHS would be here forever, but look what happened!

    I could go on about this for a while, and I like reading these articles as occasionally they bring a good topic for conversation, but don’t start bashing it without looking at both sides of the argument. Microsoft may have co-developed the streaming system, but if it works I guarantee Sony will want a piece of the action.

  • Shikamaroo

    How could Zune finish off blu ray if they would lack movies from sony pictures

  • Liam

    Not every one is going to use digital download as there number one movie source, there are around 6 billion people in the world, not all in a comfortable money situation, there are around 100 million gamers, do you think the X box is going to sell even a quarter of dvd and blu-ray players in the world? No is your answer! So why will this end blu-ray? Lets face it us idiot game nerds are about the only people who gives to shits about digital download and not all of us have internet connections that exceed 4mb, lets face it not everyone is ready for digital download, some people just like buying from hmv etc. than downloading. Has i-tunes killed off people purchasing a radio and music from music stores no! Another bull shit article.

  • supercat42

    I know alot of you have said this already. A lot of people hate digital download as medium for entertainment content. Many people also like to have a physical copy with all the packaging that comes with. Not to mention the older generations like my Father-In-Law who believes that anything to do with Xbox or Playstation is a toy and a waste of time.

  • Darkie

    Never mind all these kids, they are in love with Sony and they get upset when anyone doesn’t share their blind irrational love for that company.

    This is certainly the kind of technology that could be licensed out, and it could indeed be the death of blueray and other physical media. The problem with bluray is the price, people just don’t think the improvement in picture quality is justified by the price of bluray. This streaming technology could be delivered at a far lower price. there will always be those who want to own physical media, but it could take just enough users away from bluray to really compete with it.

  • Jamo

    I agree with supercat42 and Liam, theres just something more satisfying about having the disc and packaging etc. I love having a dvd/blu-ray collection right there on the shelf infront of me and as for Darkie’s comment about the price of blu-rays the price is about right i think, i pay around £15-£18 on every new release blu-ray, new release dvd’s are around £13.99, and i watch my blu-rays on my old mans 52″ 1080p HD Plasma and i have a 42″ Hd Plasma myself and the difference between the 2 is surreal the quality on my TV is outstanding but the quality on the 52″ is just that much better, Pearl Harbour especially looks outstanding. So yea im always going to be going to the store to get my Blu-rays, sod Digital Download.

  • ROFL

    These cookie-cutter responses don’t give any insight into the technology. Chances are you’ll get 1080p with stereo sound and the 1080p 5.1Ss experience will need to be downloaded. To download to own I rather pay the premium for tangible media with additional extras. Another big problem…… Xbox users are less HDready than PS3 users. When over half of their fan base still live at home with their parents I’m highly doubtful they’ll take this service to the next level. If this works it will be great but as a business model…. not so sure all the hoopla will continue after the first 2-3 months after release.

  • Orange Drink

    Really? A video streaming service that caters only to xbox live audiences, and, one that relys on the constantly dipping and rising xbox live connection is going to kill blu-ray, a technology that exists in the Playstation 3 as well as many Blu-ray dvd players? Next thing you know, Microsoft will be givivng away money and Valve will marry the PS3.

  • tuto

    motherfucking, fuckers gay-box fans and their gay-box godamn pages, BLURAY ROCKS ergo PS3 ROCKS, im sick of hearing and reading “ways microsoft can overcome sony” and stuff like that. they just had a year headstart that’s all, but the hardware and games are way better and u’d wish u had killzone 2 on ur crappy-failing console, and third party companies? they’re just good and crappy ones cuz if they were good they’d make better games on the ps3 rather than just copies of a godamn 9GB game put in a 50GB and beyond disc, if they could only know how to use them, those ports would be a helluva lot better on ps3, take firt party games for example or MSG4…

  • I love how all you Sony fanboys have to defend BluRay just because Sony made it. BluRay will not last and neither will the PS3. Anyone who says a $30 BluRay disc is better than just streaming the same movie at 1080p for a few bucks is rediculous. Even if the movie costs $5 per play…you could watch it 6 times before you ever even hit the cost of the disc and let’s be honest, how many of us watch a movie once we buy it more then 6 times???

  • vgjfj

    How can a xbox 360 USA only exclusivity can terminate a whole media storage format by itself?
    And again, xbox Live is a lot laggy.

  • Great responses guys, keep em coming. I will remind you though, that in no where in the article did I state that this new zune HD video destroy, defeat, or bother Blu-Ray in any.

    Blu-Ray is the best looking and sounding without a doubt
    But look at the big picture. Unless Blu-Ray drops prices, and continues to supply a Digital copy on each Blu-Ray, the streaming is undeniably the most convenient. People want it now! As long as Zune HD delivers incredibly prices, this will succeed. Look at TQcast, we support the PS3 to the fullest, and love Blu-Rays, but when we see something that has tons of potential, we don’t choose sides G.

  • teets

    “required to download the content instead of streaming it if they don’t have an 8 – 10 Mbps broadband connection.”

    I would say that’s about MOST of the United States. Myself included (I’m at 6 Mbps). Won’t be replacing physical media any time soon. If Microsoft started to give away massive bandwidth to the whole country, this would actually be news.


    I have never, ever, ever paid $30 for a BRD. I get them when they come out and usually I get them for $20 on amazon (digital copy included). My copy of “Watchmen” just arrived today and it looks excellent on my plasma screen. Not only that, I also have about 3 hours of bonus features to dive into until I sell this version and get the ultimate collectors edition (with another 2-3 hrs of NEW bonus features). Since moving to BR, I can not stand to watch regular SD video; it is always worth the preimium to get the additional quality IMO. That said, Ive only got 5mb/s on my cable connections (consistantly) and streaming 4-6 gigs is out of the question. BR is the only viable option I have. Even if I couldnt afford paying and additional 5 bucks for the movie, I have a blockbuster membership that allows me to rent BRs at no additional cost. I dont see the benefit of streaming over BRD.

  • Joshua Stein

    Interesting article very informative to say the least that aside any conversation about the demise of Blu-Ray is hilarious. For it is already dead.

    Less than 15% of all Americans own a Blu-Ray player a key factor in this process is that most people are more than pleased with picture quality of standard DVD’s for all the hoopla the pristine superior image quality of Blu-Ray disc over standard DVDs is not as extreme as the picture quality of standard DVDs over VHS or beta tapes.

    Many of us are to young to remember but one of the things that push standard DVD’s over the top was that everyone ran out and upgraded their video library from VHS tapes to standard DVD’s that is not going to happen with Blu-Ray unless the prices of stand alone players and disc drastically drop.

  • slice0072

    Hey guys i think you are missing the point, If you would take off your sony and MS glasses and look at who wins its the consumer.We are being given choices and anytime one of thse companies come up with an idea that is going to improve what i see and hear i’m all for it.Take me for instant I consider myself a real gamer i own 16 consoles from the colecovision to all 3 current gen systems so I dont care who comes out with the next great title I got to play all of them.As for the Blu-ray vs streaming I buy Blu-Rays 56 to be exact but I’m not going to spend 30 dollars on lets say the last Xmen movie when it comes out,However I do have a choice I can Stream it in 1080p with 5.1 surround sound because I have 18 meg DL speed .So what Im saying here is if you call your self a gamer give yourself choices.Both of these consoles have great games ps3 has uncharted which is incredible and 360 has Gears of War so buy them and enjoy and remember as long as both of these companies push the tech they push each other and we all win. As soon as one leaves the other has no real reason to advance and they start getting satisfied. Oh yea… I almost forgot STOP!!! you don’t work for these companies.its ok to like or to have a favorite game and system but you dont’t have to come to the rescue of Sony or MS they are doing pretty well compared to the rest of us.

  • YesYouDID

    DESZ – It’s bad enough to insult everyones intelligence, but then treat us all like we’re the same kind of moron you are is too much.

    You DID say exactly that…and are now backtracking hard claiming you didn’t say this would “destroy, defeat, or bother Blu-Ray” JUST FINISH IT.

    What kind of hypocrite…exactly are you?

    What your stating now is that all you did was write some flamebait headline & article to go with it to keep the comments & hits coming for your ad money.

    If you where a journalist, you would point out almost NO ONE has the required 8 – 10 Mbps ACTUAL download speed needed, or the server wired right behind the XBox 360 that make this technology actually WORK.

    A journalist would have enough credibility to point out objectively that the real download speeds for most users are a fraction of those needed…Microsoft themselves state all those users will need to download or have degraded performance NOTHING LIKE what you gloss over…and a real “journalist” would be writing on a real site…not pimping some fourth rate blog with another no-name desperate for even N4G hits to keep their pathetic site-hit title-clicks coming in.

    No, Desz…You didn’t say that anywhere in the article, JUST IN THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE with your follow up reply proving your not just a hypocrite but deserve no respect or credibility for being the journalist you’re not.

  • GVT

    I love all of the PS3 owners who have to keep justifying their ignorant purchase. Have fun trying to find a games that don’t suck and spending $30+ on BluRay movie discs.

    Microsoft had it right from the beginning: a cheaper system that is upgradeable through superior software and technology as necessary. BluRay is one of the only mediums that offers true HD, but guess what? It looks like shit when you put it on a 120hz television or monitor. Why? Because it only has the capability to do 24 fps at 1080p. Whoops! Didn’t know that did ya? But with streaming capability, Zune won’t be hindered by the limitations of a disc and is able to offer 60, 120, whatever (!) fps as televisions keep getting faster processing power. To compete, you will need a higher capability out of a disc.

    Loving how much PS3 sucks,


  • @YesYouDid I know its you Stevehide19, and read the damn article in no way do I ever say that it will get rid of Blu-Ray silly boy. “Could”

    You continue to be so closed minded, this ain’t about a console, or format, its about the whole technology and how this (dlc) will obviously take over in the future. Not once did I say when it will happen, I simply stated that this technology could easily be standard, not just xbox live, yes they started an awesome technology, but this will be the future my friend. DVD to Blu-Ray upgrade to all cosumers=no DVD-to-DLC=yes because its non-expiring, it’s always available, its always portable, its always ready for BMi.

    If you actually feed on what the interview states, you might actually learn something.

    And for the record, I’m not a journalist, I just create heat, and that’s why this article is hot like summer. Send your writers this way, Ill give them a TQ lesson or two.


  • slice0072

    Ok yesyoudid if you look up AT&T uverse its a fiber optic service and I have the max of 18mb DL speed.

  • Spaminator

    @GVT, *Watches the Matrix on 120hz Samsung television**mind explodes**Puts the disc into his PC drive, watches on Samsung monitor**Dies*

    I dunno what your talking about, sounds to me you haven’t actually watched a Blu-ray movie. They look petty damn good to me sir.

  • Potedude

    If you have to pay for downloads and have a download limit, as I do, then digital streaming is a waste of money. I will hit my limit pronto and that applies to the whole of Australia. So there is one market where physical medium will always be in vogue…

  • Why is all these xbox360 haters commenting? I believe microsoft will come through as they say they are and push the 360 to other levels of gaming and entertainment and show all these ps3 fanboys what gaming and entertainment is all about. The first update should show what microsoft is capable of, pure awsomeness! August the 11th is the start of the 360 take over!

  • slice0072

    Ok GVT look up your info All movies are filmed in 24 fps thats the hollywood standard.There wont be any movies filmed in anything other that for years.And the whole 120hz fx you are seeing when you watch a blu ray is the processor in the tv speeding the movie up to try and get rid of the blur that many LCD’s have.Microsoft does seem to have the right idea by pushing downloads First they are a software company and they have built a machine that seems to be able to evolve each passing year thru software.However people in general are still used to physical media so DVD and bluray is still an option for some at the moment.

  • Billy G

    “Video will automatically scale to the best possible resolution based on the speed of your connection” 720p at best for most of us.

  • swiller

    And 1080p will be compressed as hell on the xbox 360! I’m sorry but their is no way it will compare to a blu-ray in the end, even with the 1080p name.

    Right now the NetFlix HD streaming on the 360 is heavily compressed. The psn stuff is just terrible and can’t stream properly at all! Apple tv is miles better with 780p streaming that actually works and although has some compression, currently much better then my other solutions.

  • I for one will never again buy another physical disc. I will never own blu-ray. I truly feel the future is electronic downloads. I love the option of purchasing it once and having it available to me for the rest of my life – no worries about scratched discs, lost discs, storage space or failed hard drives.

    What is it about PS3 fan-boys??? Why do you hate a truly American company such as Microsoft and love a consumer-unfriendly company such as Sony-Japan (makers of the failed MiniDisc technology, Beta technology)?

    I say we all band together and put a stop to the Sony nameplate.

  • Pingback: Microsoft’s Next System may not be a Game Console « TQcast()