We know Xbox LIVE has been very much into the video scene. No matter where you live and what you like to stream, there's options for you. You have Netflix, Hulu Plus, AT&T U-Verse and even Sky Player for my people in UK, and that's just the third-party stuff. There's a whole catalog of video goodness within LIVE's Video Marketplace, too. However, if you are like most people, we blow by the Video Marketplace on our way to Netflix or Hulu Plus, knowing our options are a little more extensive over there. There's that, and the fact that we've already paid a monthly subscription for one if not both of those services and don't want to shell out another 400-800 Microsoft Points to rent out an HD movie.
Wouldn't it be nice if just like the beloved and awesome Zune Music Pass there was a Zune Video Pass that allowed an all-you-can-stream package for a low monthly option? I know I would be onboard for that, and Microsoft knows that people have been asking for it. So this week, rumors have been flying around about a video streaming service to launch, complete with Zune branding. It makes sense, too, as they'd make more money if they kept the video streaming inside their own services and didn't have to link out to a third-party. Don't fret, though, I'm sure Microsoft will keep all of their external options on LIVE, too, as they do still want the Xbox to be the center of all of your entertainment, no matter where you may want it to come from.
We have more on what this package might be after the break.
We've known for a while that Microsoft has been in the planning stages of an easier to use, more efficient version of the Video Marketplace, and we saw the beginnings of that plan in 2009 when they brought over Zune Video. Well, at E3, the rumor in the industry was that we would see more of that plan and Microsoft would have introduced an "Xbox LIVE Diamond" package, or something similar, along with the new UI and Xbox Dashboard.
Even though we didn't see that, it's still expected to arrive later this year in some form. It is rumored that this "Diamond" membership would include a TV, video and music subscription, and while we already have a Zune Music Pass that we can purchase, bundling it into the Xbox LIVE subscription would make sense for Microsoft, as they do plan to keep with bringing entertainment into the same spotlight they have on gaming.
We also expect to see some things from Microsoft's "Ventura" project, which is a program designed to make finding video and music across any Windows device simpler and easier. That would tend to go along with the Live TV and Bing Search features we saw come to light during the E3 presentation.
Granted, we've also heard (for the 53,204th time) that the Zune brand will be dead soon, and that it will be merged into the Xbox brand like Games for Windows, but we'll see if that actually ever happens. Having the Zune name for media content and the Xbox name for gaming makes sense to me, and I think Microsoft may stick with that idea. No matter the case though, having your Xbox console, WinPho 7 device, your PC and your Windows 8 tablet all working in harmonious gaming and media bliss seems like a Win to me. I can't wait to see what this next level has to offer. I'm in for the price, if it's under $80/year. Are you?