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. 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

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.