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Windows Phone 8 doesn’t support playback of purchased Xbox Video media

To say the re-launch of Zune Music and Video as Xbox Music and Video has been smooth for some consumers would certainly raise some eyebrows around Windows Phone Central.  Since day one we have had numerous complaints over incompatibles and items that need re-purchasing.

One area for which we can verify ourselves as a problem is that of Xbox Video, where as far as we can tell, it is not possible to transfer your purchases to your shiny new Windows Phone 8 device. We spent a good hour or two yesterday fidgeting around with various setups and failed on each one. We’re sure many, many other people have and will do the same—after all, according to Microsoft it’s “three screens and a cloud”, right?


Copying to Windows Phone 8 of recently purchased Xbox Video content fails 

Microsoft has now flat out stated that rented or purchased video content via Xbox Video is just not supported in Windows Phone 8.  The info is published on their Windows Phone 8 knowledge base (opens in new tab) and just confirms what many of us have been trying for weeks now:

“Windows Phone 8 does not currently support playback of rented or purchased content from the Xbox Video Store. If you'd like to see this feature added, you can go to the Windows Phone Feature Suggestions website and make requests for future releases.”

So though we purchased Drive (2011) from Zune Video and just the other day Warrior (2011) via Xbox Video, as of now there is zero chance that those videos will play on our Nokia Lumia 920 or HTC 8X—it’s just not possible. That's right, even your older Zune Videos that you purchased are useless on Windows Phone 8. (We could even point out how Zune Videos can't be re-downloaded to Windows 8 devices via Xbox Video. You need to use Zune Desktop, which is fine except when you have the Surface RT and you can't. But that's just adding salt to the wound, no?)

This despite the fact that when you purchase those items, you are explicitly told you now own a license to play them on your Windows Phone. Technically we guess that’s true if you have an older phone but not their new mobile OS, Windows Phone 8.

Fail: Older Zune Video content (manually copied) won't play on Windows Phone 8 either

Normally we try to be more forgiving of Microsoft, acknowledging how “these things take time” and Windows Phone is a work in progress. But we have our limits too and we find this glaring hole in the Xbox Video service to be unacceptable, especially if you’re upgrading.

Microsoft, we don’t say this often around here but do something about this and do something fast (including refunds for purchase content). This is embarrassing.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab); via Windows Phone Central Forums

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

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.

  • Like what I said.. Wp8 is brand new,not 100% skipping until the first update..
  • You're partially correct. It's not finished, I wouldn't even call it brand new at this point. WP8 beta.
  • Haha even some if the animations are smoother in wp7, like the animation where the words fly in if you press the 3 dots. In wp8 it practically almost 'gohsts' with my htc 8x. Very odd
  • Yup! After Service pack 2 or something I might upgrade.. Until then, HELL NO!!
  • Huge beta test!  This makes it easy to switch to another phone with a different OS.
  • Windows on mobile devices is in beta since the early days of Windows CE/PocketPC. I skipped this Windows Phlop 8 and I am staying with my 7.5, at least I save some money.
  • Phlop? Go somewhere troll
  • He's not a troll he's broke
  • In this case I'd say waiting is not a bad thing.
  • Ouch! That is not good. How could they not have fixed that by now???? Come on Microsoft!!!
  • This is classic Microsoft; shipping sh*t that's not complete. I say this as a MS fan, btw.
  • It's not just Microsoft. Apple Siri shipped in "beta" and they sold it as perfect in commercials.  I won't even mention Apple Maps.
  • Xbox music isn't working on my laptop, cant find any of my actual music. Will have to use iTunes......ugh.
  • I'd use winAMP over iTunes any day.
  • +1 lol
  • Songbird is another option.
  • Like in the Zune software you need to specify where your local music files are located. This is done in file explorer - navigate to library ->  music
    Admin the "general music" folder and Add the folder(s) where your music is located as you would in the Zune software and they will appear in your xbox music app.
  • Crazy, I can't think of buying movies on Xbox if I can't watch it on all my devices.
  • Out of curiosity, where DO you buy your videos?  Ironically, it would seem iTunes is the best option since although they come in .m4v format, many players will play them (and for those that don't, one can easily convert them into .mp4 or whatever).
    I ask because I've only recently started to buy videos and Amazon's DRMed-to-hell approach didn't look good and XBOX seemed odd since I don't use their points system.  Google Play doesn't seem to let you download (maybe I'm wrong...I just couldn't find it), nor could I buy (as opposed to rent) a lot of their content.  That brought me to the last place I would have thought I'd end up...iTunes=/
  • Blu ray movies offer a download for ur device
  • Yeah...but then I'd just have to throw away the Blu-Ray because that's about how worthless it is to me, and I'd feel bad about that -_-
  • There's no need to feel bad about throwing away your Blu-Rays, if you send them to me, I can put them to good use... :-D
  • Hehehe
  • Or u can get utorrent and download movies off
  • Lol I meant legally
  • Google play does let you download, but the option is pretty buried in the UI.
    Also, once a movie is downloaded, it can no longer be streamed.
  • Geez...this sort of thing is not just embarrassing, it's absolutely ridiculous. One of the main selling points of the new ecosystem was the whole three screens idea now we are seeing that it is falling short.
  • So I can't watch a 2 hour movie on my cell phone? OH MAN! What am I going to do at work now?
  • The point...I think you missed it.
  • Hahaha some truth though to the statement. Think I have watched 1 movie on a WP Device ever and it might have been on my Zune HD!!!
  • You are aware that you can get a Season Pass for TV shows on Xbox Video though, right? Sure, you may not watch a movie, but watching a 22 minute TV show on the train to work is not exactly niche these days...
  • Or just get Netflix ;)
  • Netflix works in the subway? Had no idea... (also streaming kills your baterry).
  • Well, many carriers are working on massively upgrading cell reception in most subway systems in the US.
  • "Currently working on" doesn't help much, now does it?
  • My wife and I purchased season 4 of Breaking Bad to watch when we were staying with her parents over Christmas last year.  We would watch a few episodes each night before we went to bed, reclining on the bed, with my Dell Venue Pro propped up on a pillow. 
    This is a very important feature that I expect in a mobile phone in 2012. 
  • Maybe we just have to convert our own ala android side loading for the time being then. At least former Droid users will be used to that ;) dig dig
  • What about the 30 minute tv show I want to watch on my lunchbreak?
    What about the 2 hour movie I want to watch on on a plane or train that doesn't have an entertainment system?
    What about this thanksgiving, staying in relatives'  guest bedroom with no TV?
  • Point of the matter is that it should never have been released without this ability. Just when I start believing in Microsoft again they do some amateur hour shit like this.
  • Agreed. They have pushed Google back, are becoming bigger than BlackBerry and have Apple shaking in their boots. But this dumbness needs to stop. This is why people find it hard to trust Microsoft.
  • +1000000
  • the sad thing is, that windows 8  offers a lot of nice looking apps, but no matter which app you use, everywhere you have the feeling that they cut down the functionality. no matter if it is xbox music which is a joke compared to zune or he mail app which is an extremely stripped down version of windows live simply can't be that this is the new approach of Microsoft developing a new operating system.yes it looks Venice and it's fast, and it's very good to use, but reducing the functionality of apps like they did make windows 8 an epic fail! I use it on my notebook and I like the concept a lot, but if keep the apps this way, I'm going to downgrade to win7 again, because feature wise this will be a upgrade!!
  • This IS embarrassing. Just like the Music App native to Windows RT is embarrassing, appalling, abysmal... easily the worst Microsoft product I have ever used. Easily... and I'm a rare Microsoft fanboy over here lol
    I'm not one for this, but I truly hope some heads roll for the horrible music app. Usually the thing that gets Microsoft's attention the most (besides shareholders) is bad public image. I hope ... truly HOPE Gizmodo slams Microsoft in a future article on their horrible music app. Because at its current stage, it has more bugs than I can count on two hands.
  • That's precisely my experience with it. I end up filling up multiple feedback notes each time I try to use it. Absolutely terrible. If Microsoft can't get their own developers to create a decent experience on WinRT, what chance to third parties have??
  • Couldn't agree more. The music app absolutely sucks
  • Ditto. So sad, especially considering they don't actually have to go back to the drawing board to get inspiration into what makes an awesome music app. They just need to look at Zune. I really really wish that MS hadn't shutdown Pioneer and let J Allard leave. They brought a sense of style and polish to MS that they sorely needed.
    Now this stupid Xbox video issue and the abysmal state of syncing to wp8. Seriously MS, it's one thing to not be keeping pace with the competition in new features, but it's a whole other ball game of stupid when you start regressing.
    I'm quite disgusted by all this really. Just unbelievable. And I hate all the apologists making excuse for this, and suggesting alternatives. Thank you for the alternatives but how hard is it to understand that you shouldn't be having to compromise on features you've already had when moving to the 'updated' version of stuff.
  • F*ck Gizmodo. It'll be better if a more prestigious outlet slams MS for this, like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
  • Stuff that. Every newspaper and tech blog IN THE WORLD, slamming this app. Glaring bugs out the wazoo, and what's with the Skype metro app crashing all the time? I have an Intel i5, with 8gb gaming RAM. This should not be happening...
  • Well, that's uber lame.
  • Completely insane mistake by MIcrosoft on this. 
  • Not to stray too far away from the topic, but I also find the new Xbox Music service to be rather lame. Managing music libraries have become a nightmare. I already miss the Zune software!
  • FWIW the service is actually pretty good... on the xbox.
  • Was there really any reason to kill the Zune software? Couldn't they have just rebranded the whole thing if they really had to? I don't understand how these guys do this stuff.
  • This is such a glaring and obscene mistake that it only took three weeks for anyoneon earth to uncover it!!!
  • Exactly. Daniel is probably the only one who owns a WP8 device to even attempt this yet. Nobody will use this feature, nobody cares, purely click bait.
  • False. Head to forums and there are plenty of people complaining about it. And once again, you *miss the point*. If Microsoft is advertising Xbox Video as being "3 screens" and tell you can now watch it on your phone but you cannot, that is not truth in advertising... Link bait? You have got to be kidding me. The whole media experience on Windows Phone 8--either music or video--is a little bit of a nightmare right now. It's a step back from the WP7-Zune experience, not progress. That's important for people to know. @heelo Read more closely. It was only *today* that Microsoft has officially given a response to this issue. Up until now, we've been holding back on this until they said something.
  • This just adds to a lot of other misgivings from. Microsoft recently: no wp8 upgrade for my beautiful Stormtrooper, half-finished wp8 and no exclusive software for wp8... Won't deter me and I might not even use it... BUT IT PISSES ME OFF BIGTIME!
  • Please clarify. I have WP7 and when I rent or purchase from Zune, I can only choose to watch it on my laptop or Zune, not both. Was this a feature that was supposed to be in v8 and not there?
  • How should I clarify? The lead image says everything about what happens when you purcahse a video from Microsoft--you can play it on your Xbox 360, PC and Phone. That has always been the case, even on Windows Phone 7. In fact, the instructions for syncing to the phone are for a WP7/Zune setup.
  • correct it should be identical as WP7 (samsung focus for me) however WP8 can not play the videos.  Either through the terrible new sync client (zune client is dead to WP8) or through drag and drop.  The problem is soley from the DRM as non DRM video plays just fine.
  • Didnt I see a Microsoft youtube video with someone from the SmartGlass team showing how you can buy a movie on your Xbox and use the app to watch it on his Surface and then his phone? Would that still work or is that a no go too?
  • And this is one reason why I don't buy videos anymore.  I'll stick with Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Redbox.
  • Word. The only time I buy a movie if its a special movie ( a matter of taste, I guess) that really should be owned in its physical form. Otherwise, I rely on those services you named (Zune/Xbox Video included for rental purposes)
  • I love wp8 and it runs very smoothly but like other people say, sometimes or almost always it looks like a beta version. I'm already hoping for a fast coming update!
  • That would indeed NOT work. Apparently Microsoft is playing some sort of sick joke on us.
  • Level up and lose functionality? WTH? Not that I'd watch a movie on my phone it would be nice to have. Xbox music torks me off. I love the jumplists where you tap the letter and it pulls up the alphabet to jump to that letter of artist or song. On my Surface I have to search for it or endlessly scroll. Unless someone here has a better option for me.
  • Exactly! I hate that there isn't better filtering capability. For people with large music libraries, looking for music is a real pain in the a$$. Also, getting to the play controls flat out sucks. The music app is a step back in my opinion.
  • On surface just use the charms bar and hit search :)
  • I already noted that in my original post. I want to tap, tap, scroll the songs for that letter and choose it. I don't want to swipe, type letters, tap on song and then play. Way too many steps compare to WP.
  • Surface should have semantic zoom for that, its in the people app at least, pinch out to see the letter list.
  • XBOX Music and XBOX Video are so bad... it's a shame... Before killing Zune, they should have make they could match of beat it feature... it's broken, it's a failure... The media experience that was a joy between Zune and WP7 is now very bad. I experience the exact same thing, bought a movie on my Surface and can't get it to work on my phone. And synching is not even close to what Zune was able to do. Wireless sync, gone. Playlist list creation and management, gone. Importing only necessary song to your mobile device, gone. Keeping my music on my network disk, gone. Bad bad bad bad media experience. They are pushing so mush their cloud feature that they forget 99.99% of people have a local digital version of our music. if people wonder why @stevei got fired, I would start by this mess. I can work with my Surface and my Windows Phone, but playing is limited by that stupid excuse of a replacement to Zune they called XBOX music/video.
  • This lack of consistent follow-through on the end-user experience is exactly why he's gone. His team didn't invent it, so it got scrapped when he took over. He ostrosized and alienated everyone that wouldn't play by his rules. Plain and simple, based on all the evidence I ever saw.
  • Yep.  I wonder if the head that rolled was Sinofsky's.  Maybe this is the reason?
  • Don't worry guys, this will be fixed in WP9, but that won't be compatible with WP8 devices. Time to upgrade again! :D
  • It's scary because it's believable. Either that or it'll be updated on Microsoft's end in an OS update that AT&T takes 6 months to approve...
  • Not anymore. All SOFTWARE updates go through Microsoft first.
  • Are you serious?
  • While I don't care so much about the video aspect the music app is pretty horrific. I synced info to my files on windows 8 over the weekend then used the WP App to sync my phone and all the information is gone leaving me grey squares where the cover/artist info should be. DOH!!!
  • Why wouldn't Microsoft just update the appearance of Zune Desktop and rebrand it as Xbox Music, retaining all of the fuctionality and allowing the DRM access to port from your old 7.x phone to a 8.x device?  Right now my solution with the Lumia 920 is to play music off the cloud with my Xbox Music Pass.  The constant issues with content not being authorized to play on my device was weighing on me.  If I want an album, I'll download it directly to my device.  As inconvenient as this may be, it is the only rational option outside of pirating music again.  Honestly, that would have been easier to do at this point and I wouldn't have had to spend $10 a month on the pass.  I was looking forward to going legit, Microsoft.  If your business model is going to be that you have to re-purchase content between the Xbox, PC and Windows Phone the price should be lowered.  I would pay $2 a movie to watch them on my phone - meaning that I only own a license and a quick call home to MS's servers to say my license is current is all that is needed to resume play.  Sure, download the file for local and unbuffered play but make it check for a license weekly.  If I wanted Phone, Xbox and PC I would pay $10.  That seems fair to me.  
  • I sending back my 920, but to answer your question as to why they didn't just port Zune over.  My best guess is its a diffrent code base and MSFT can't afford to hire enough programs to rewright it.  :)
  • Bait and switch, im sure a lot of people's first thought would be "who the hell watches a movie on a phone anyway??"
    not the point, the point is MS said that all platforms would be united and it is not.  I dont care to watch movies on my phone, but if MS says it should work, then it should.  The fact that it does not, will create dis-trust towards microsoft who is already behind in the market. 
  • Plus it's just not movies but TV shows too as Xbox Video has season passes for TV. Not everyone watches a movie on their phone, fair enough but TV shows while waiting for the subway is far from unheard of.
  • I should of said just videos, i pretty much clumped everything video related i.e. movies, t.v.s or whatever and labeled it movies. 
  • Xbox Video does not support Windows Phone 8.  Xbox Music and Video to not support playback to your existing DLNA devices, only Xbox it seems.
    XBox Music/Video is a fail.
  • Usual troll comment
  • Fortunately (???), neither Xbox Music nor Video are available in my country, so this doesn't affect me at all, but I'm pretty disappointed in Microsoft for letting this happen. Windows Phone platform is still struggling to gain market share, and this is nothing but driving nails in a coffin. :/ I really hope MS will fix this asap! :)
  • Yeah fix this fast as well as the music. And for what its worth... My purchased movie via Xbox is not scene on my windows 8 PC either. That may be a whole nother issue... But expectations after seeing all the "8" hub-bub made me feel like everything played nice together. Or shall I call it dumbglass?
  • Some of it is just preferences you have to enable on the devices... go into Settings > Preferences and make sure the sync options are enabled.
  • Finish it...fin-i-s-h it!
  • I. FREAKING. HATE the new Xbox Music experience, and Xbox Videos -- while great on Xbox and Windows 8 -- is absolutely maddening to use for Windows Phone. It's nuts. It's straight up insane. Bonzai. No longer in possession of one's faculties. Three fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!
    I literally spent 5 hours yesterday going through my Zune music collection redownloading half of my Zune Pass songs just so they'd even show up and work in Xbox Music. Then... ahem. THEN! I had to cleanup the freaking mess it made with my "Xbox Cloud" syncing (I ended up shutting the whole thing off), and fixing half my playlists. And don't get me started on the mother f-ing Live Playlists that I had in Zune that are now static ones in Xbox. GAH! I am beyond annoyed by it!
    And it wouldn't be so bad if I could just adequately use classic Zune as my exclusive experience. No, now I've got to jump through hoops to get my damn music synced to the phone. Enter--- WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER! Yes, that's right, folks, I had to resort to classic WMP just to get my music and playlists synced properly.
    This is why people end up hating Microsoft. The products are GREAT... unless you're migrating from a previous Microsoft experience. Then you're screwed. You're better off converting FROM some non-Microsoft solution, because there's usually import tools for that!
    OK, so I'm usually a Microsoft apologist, but they really screwed the pooch on this one. AND WHERE'S MY XBOX VIDEO PASS OPTION?!?!?!
  • I feel you. After syncing 15GB of music to my Zune music to my phone to find out I couldn't play it, I decided it wasn't worth it to continue using Zune at home. I made a backup of all the songs just in case, and then wiped the libraries and migrated my computers to Windows 8 to use Xbox Music. I haven't looked back yet. Its been somewhat of a pain to redownload many of my favorites, and I'm sure I won't have 100% of my old collection there, but I've just been re-adding things as I think "hey, I haven't downloaded this band yet". I wasn't expecting this migration between Zune and Xbox Music to be this bad. What's worse is that now my car's Sync system can see all the files as the phone presents itself in mass storage mode, but Microsoft doesn't have the right keys to decrypted the protected content in the WMA files. If I bought the song and it downloaded as an MP3, I can play it. Otherwise, it just sits at 0:00. For some reason, Bluetooth Audio in my car with my 920 is a shaky experience with lots of stuttering, so now I've had to resort to a headphone cable to plug in my phone if I want to listen to 95% of my music collection. What a major oversight. Quite depressing that I wouldn't have a problem in my car if I had an iPod/iPhone that had all the music downloaded from iTunes. You'd expect for a Microsoft product to work better with another Microsoft product than an Apple product, but I guess not.
  • Man what is up with all the bugs or missing features on wp8?? Kind of makes me want to wait a little and keep using wp7
  • Even the music is mess and one sided. Download a song in surface you see in WP8 but not the other way around. With Xbox music being common between then I'd like them sync. At least the cloud part. :(
  • On principle this really pisses me off. Practically it just doesn't affect me. When I watch movies on a portable it's always on my Nexus from DVDs I converted using handbrake, and even that's not very often. Renting from any company is so much more expensive then Redbox. Yeah Zune was better but I had no issues using WMP to get my music on my phone. What's clear is they rushed this to market to have it ready for Black Friday and we'll see the finished product probably by the end of the year. Until then I have no plans to go back to my Trophy.
  • That attitude is exactly why I haven't hunted down a Microsoft employee and punched them, lol. I do agree. Now I'm more and more convinced that they were rushing to meet deadlines, and that was the real reason for now showing off more stuff sooner. It's a little disappointing, BUT I hope that Microsoft (and Nokia and HTC) are ready to push some updates out through the holidays.
  • This is what happens when people were all like "when is it coming out, when is it coming out."
  • Except MS didn't rush this to please those people; they rushed it to meet what is now obviously an unrealistic deadline of a simultaneous W8/WP8.
  • I can't even redownload the songs I purchased from Zune on W7 to my W8. They can only stream through the Cloud. Sucks.
  • This may sound weird, but start playing the track, then pop the "..." menu up and there should be a "Download" option. It's tedious because you can only do it while the track is playing, but it does work. 
  • I ran into this issue when I tried to sync a movie to my Lumia 920. I am OUTRAGED that MS has done this. There is NO desktop app to sync from my XP laptop to wp8 so I have to do it through clunky windows media and its impossible to sync purchased movies. Furthermore, there is still no support for Bluetooth keyboards on wp8, so there's no real advantage in having an office app on the phone. I could do more on my old windows mobile PDA than I can on my Lumia. I have been a loyal Microsoft user, but I am seriously considering taking my phone back and going with the iPhone 5. There are even fewer advantages in wp8 than in wp7. Someone in Microsoft has really misjudged what users like myself need from them.
  • And the iPhone has even fewer advantages than them both. Yea your post makes sense.
  • I first came across this problem on my Surface, rented a movie and wanted to send to Xbox to play on my TV but was unable to do so without buying it again on the xbox. This is insane, I have invested in Windows 8, Surface RT and now Windows Phone 8 for this "dream" of three screens and the cloud. Its absolute ridiculous and to add insult to injury we have to raise this as a feature request? really Microsoft?
  • Lol yes, I love how they are all like " oh you wanted that? Why didn't you ask then ?" -_-||
  • Seriously!
  • And yet this exactly what they advertised you could do with Smartglass and its a crock.
  • Think you're wrong here. I bought several movies on my Surface via Xbox video on a recent trip. They all show up on the Xbox in the Xbox Videos section under My Videos. I can watch them without issue. Just verified. That said I just realized you said rented. Purchasing may allow this behavior and renting may not.
  • Think you're wrong here. I bought several movies on my Surface via Xbox video on a recent trip. They all show up on the Xbox in the Xbox Videos section under My Videos. I can watch them without issue. Just verified. That said I just realized you said rented. Purchasing may allow this behavior and renting may not.
  • If you purchase media through the video store on W8, it will specify what devices it can play on.
  • And the studios and everyone else wonder's why people rip and "borrow" movies and music.   It is ridiculous that we are put through this.  This is exactly why I'll never purchase online DRM content.  It is bad enough that we purchase movies, games and music