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Disney Movies Anywhere DRM system severs ties with Microsoft Movies & TV

Proprietary digital rights systems are complex beasts, and Disney's Movies Anywhere effectively doubles that complexity by letting users buy its movies through various digital outlets and "stored" in a Disney digital locker system – dubbed KeyChest – forever.

Disney's service works with iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Video, Google Play, and most recently Verizon Fios (opens in new tab). Microsoft's Movies & TV used to be on that list but users today are being informed that the partnership is being ended.

Sample email being sent to users of the Disney Movies Anywhere program.

Sample email being sent to users of the Disney Movies Anywhere program.

The reason for the separation is a bit unclear with Disney stating, "Your Microsoft Movies & TV consent has expired and cannot currently be renewed," which sounds like some contract between the two companies has expired, or the system by which authentication occurs is no longer working.

Movies previously purchased through Microsoft Movies & TV and stored in the Disney Movies Anywhere, however, are unaffected:

All of the movies you have previously shared between your Disney Movies Anywhere and Microsoft Movies & TV accounts will be available on Disney Movies Anywhere and your provider lockers.

Future purchases through the Microsoft Movies & TV service will not be able to be added to Disney's service, effectively pushing consumers towards Apple, Google, or Amazon for future digital movies purchases.

Disney launched Movies Anywhere in 2014 with Microsoft jumping on board with Amazon in September 2015. The service competes with UltraViolet, and while it offers convenience, some see it as another attempt at controlling one's media usage with even more digital rights management (DRM) involved.

Regarding if this is a sign that Microsoft Movies & TV is shifting gears or downsizing, it is likely premature to speculate, but Microsoft should get ahead of this story before consumer backlash reaches a fever pitch. Judging by the large volume of email tips we have received just tonight Microsoft has a lot of work cut out for them.

Disney has recently begun consolidating its online digital services starting with pulling movies on Netflix. It is not known if that move is related to this shift with Microsoft.

Thanks, everyone, for the tips

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

45 Comments
  • I was very upset when I received that email.  First thing that ran through my mind; DAN MUST BE INFORMED OF THIS OUTRAGE!  lol.
  • It happened all so sudden....
  • Terrible optics for Microsoft.
  • Is it? Don't think many people buy movies and TV through MS compared to the other services. Sorry if it affected your particular purchases though. Definitely a reason I don't purchase digital content with these services, who knows how long they'll actually be around?
  • It happened to Netflix and MS. Not sure three other streaming services have the same volume of subscibers.
  • Yeah I was referring to the bad optics for MS comment. Don't think there's a sufficient number of people who are affected or would even notice so that MS would get significant bad publicity about it.
  • In fact, I'd expect to see the other partnerships being ended as well. Disney has already announced they'll be removing all of their content from Netflix because they intend to launch a similar Disney-owned-and-only service. Putting an end to this sort of partnerships, therefore, plays logically into that decision, as their goal is that in the future you buy all your Disney stuff directly from Disney and not from any third party with whom Disney would have to share revenue. They're however probably starting with Microsoft Movies & TV because from all their partners, it's likely the most irrelevant one and easier to shut down, seeing as the service itself is extremely limited regionally or simply non available in most of the world.  
  • I did wonder if this was related to that move by Disney, but I'd be shocked if this happens with Apple or Amazon, but who knows.
  • Nope - it won't happen. Apple would just buy Disney with a small cash withdrawal from their tax advantaged countries!
  • You're probably not serious, but no way. They'd have to repatriate that cash, not gunna happen under current tax law. Apple sells debt to pay dividends and fund stock buybacks because it's actually cheaper than bringing all those billions overseas back to the states. Crazy system.
  • I don't think $100 billion dolars is a "small cash withdrawal".
  • Lauren Powell Jobs currently owns almost 8% of Disney.
  • I was thinking the same, Dan. It must be due to when the services contracts expire. Not sure Netflix and Microsoft would pack it in unless they had too.
  • Well, if there's one Corporation with enough consumer cachet to affront Apple and Amazon AND get away with it, it's Disney.
    Let's see how this plays out. I'm definitely curious to watch.
  • Hi Daniel, Disney will start their own streaming services, today it got announced in out Dutch newspapers that Disney will next to the animation movies also stop with offering Star Wars and Marvell movies on Netflex and Hulu. Target : 2019. It looks like by the end, no other services will be offering Disney titles.
  • I have to agree, that I too think there is something larger in play here.
  • Disney is removing Star Wars: The Clone Wars series from Netflix on October 7th. Disney is cutting off MS Movies & TV and Netflix. This is the end of the free and peaceful world as we know it. 😭
  • Note to self: finish watching Clone Wars before October 7th.
  • Crap.. That means I have to start and finish by October 7th. Challenge accepted!
  • Agreed.
  • I will also accpoet that challenge!
  • Unless it has been pushed, the date was September 7th
  • What about Microsoft unlinking programs that don't offer 2FA? That may be one of the reason for this partnership ending. I emailed Disney and let them know I wasn't happy about this.
  • Are they rolling this out in phases?  I just re-linked my Microsoft Account to Disney Movies Anywhere today after they sent me an email that I needed to update my consent.  It's still linked, and I haven't yet received this email.  On a side note, linking my Microsoft account wouldn't work in Edge, but it worked in Chrome.  Linking to Google Play and Amazon worked in Edge, so I thought that was nuts.
  • My DMA content is still avaliable on MM&TV. My MM&TV content is NOT avaliable on DMA. Maybe this is the way it's going to be, or they are rolling this out in phases.
  • Disney's new streaming service means they pull streaming--not download to own (as in DMA)--content from services like Hulu, Netflix, etc. Microsoft's issue with DMA is separate from the launch of Disney's own streaming. Disney is seeking a bigger piece of the streaming pie, but would be highly unlikely to get rid of download to own revenue stream from a bigger service like iTunes. 
  • This seems to be a directional change for Disney, as people were surprised with the Star Wars/Marvel removal from Netflix, as many didn't think Disney would go that far based on the previous news of them cutting Disney Movies from Netflix. The simple solution...
    Microsoft needs to make their Movies/TV App/Service available on everything, as they have done with Groove. With their new 'cooperation' with Amazon, they could even work a deal to add Microsoft Movies/TV as a Channel to their services, as HBO and other content providers are doing, this would eliminate or provide a stepping stone until Microsoft can get the Apps to the other platforms and the licensing rights, which appears to be the issue with Google and Apple not wanting to allow Microsoft on their platforms. I have bought a few titles because of Disney Anywhere, and so this means I will probably buy fewer Disney titles. In retrospect though, this has little effect on me. I honestly have only ever used the 'crossplay' feature a couple of times when I was at a friends house to access some of my content on their FireTV/Etc. Going forward, I will still buy my content from Microsoft, and then just use my phone or Tablet to Miracast when using a platform that doesn't have Microsoft Movies/TV. Most devices/platforms support Miracast and the Microsoft Wireless Display adapter is also a quick and painless solution when they don't. (I already keep on in my main car.) - The sad thing is that Microsoft has always paid content providers better than Apple and Google and Amazon, which is one reason I would rather support Microsoft's service. This is especially true of music content on Groove and even Groove Pass, as the pay per play rates that get to the artists, on subscription songs, is about 1000x what Spotify and other similar streaming content services, as the others still use the older radio era/type licensing for plays. I would rather my money go to the content makers, especially as I don't do a lot of concerts.
  • I think Disney's move to create their own seperate service is stupid.  I think they are going to realize that people are not going to want to maintain a subsription for every channel they want to watch.  As long as my purchuses in Movies & TV remain, I really don't care if they are not linked to Disney's site.  It is all of these nickle-and-dime subscriptions that are going to make streaming cost more than cable.    
  • Agreed, but Disney also owns Marvel, ABC, & ESPN. They could try to build a new streaming service around those properties, but I don't know why they'd want that headache instead of continuing to license & collect money.
  • And they couldn't even keep ESPN 3 up on opening weekend of college football.
  • Hopefully this doesn't mean that future Disney movies won't be available through MM&T.  I'd like to keep all my movies in one place.  I buy very few films but I got a solid collection of the Marvel movies through MM&T.
  • Agreed. The pass-through was nice to have because I could buy the movie on MM&T and watch it on YouTube or wherever. I also felt it provided some measure of protection should MM&T someday shutter its doors. But as long as I can still purchase Disney movies on MM&T, this is really no big deal. Does seem kinda odd for them to single out Microsoft, though.
  • I've been wanting a MM&T app for Android since I've bought content through my Xbox over the years.
  • This wont push people to Google or Apple or anywhere else, all it will do is mean anything from Disney will be pirated, screw them!
  • I agree here in Asia we are only just getting Netflix all I can see happening now is people that Started using Netflix might shift back to torrents. As Less content is available all through the same provider. There is no way I will be opening up a Disney account when and if it ever arrives over here.
  • £4.99 a month here for all the Disney on its own service. I'm ok with that. Keeps kid happy.
  • I'm all for it as well. If everything was avaliable, this is a no brainer to me. For the kids, Mickey Mouse Club House (the twins are 2 and aren't into too much yet). For us: Original Mickey/Minnie/Donald/Daisy/Goofy/Pluto/Silly Symphony cartoons, weekday afternoon cartoons, Muppets, Star Wars, Marvel, and all movies (even the old ones like Apple Dumpling Gang, Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, The Computer That Wore Tennis Shoes, this list is too long).
  • Will the DMA movies be removed from MM&TV? Or is it MM&TV movies will be removed from DMA? Or both? Currently it looks like MM&TV was removed from DMA only. My 1 Disney movie I purchased thru MM&TV is not avaliable on DMA, but everything is avaliable on MM&TV.
  • Great, like I needed another reason NOT to use Microsoft Movies & TV.  All our library is on Vudu.  A SMALL portion of it is visible in Microsoft Movies & TV.  We simply refuse to buy any movies through Microsoft.  Heck, Vudu is available on my smart TV.
  • Yeah, I think VUDU is the absolute best option in that regard. Those guys are everywhere. They even have an Apple TV app. Of course, you can't buy or rent movies there for obvious reasons. But you can bring your collection with you.
  • This is why I'm still spinning silver platters. The digital add-on is nice, but contracts won't stop my discs from working. The hi-rez audio is also very important to me. Not getting that from streaming.
  • Yep, I rent digital, buy physical for those very reasons.
  • I buy disks as well. I have a 3D TV, so I buy the full editions, and then upload to VUDU. I can stream, or watch the disks with extras - best of both worlds.
  • This, 100%
  • That's ok- I never used Disney Movies Anywhere, I rarely watch Disney movies, and I will never use Amazon, Google, iTunes, or Fios (especially now that they've sold off all their Florida customers to Frontier). So really this doesn't affect me or my use of Microsoft Movies & TV at all. And for the record, Microsoft Movies & TV is available on almost all of the platforms supported by Disney Movies Anywhere, so there was never any advantage to using Disney's service anyway. I'm just annoyed that yet another company has decided to 'retire' its services on Microsoft as if Windows -the world's most popular computer OS- isn't worth the effort of supporting.