A support notice from the Xbox Video team delivers some bad but not completely unexpected news: Purchased Xbox Video content will no longer be playable through the Zune PC software, Zune devices, or Windows Phone, starting in February.
"Beginning [in] late February 2014, previously purchased Xbox Video content will no longer be playable through the Zune PC client, Zune devices, and Windows Phone 7," the support notice, which was sent via email to Zune users, reads. "In late February, 2014, Xbox will be making an update to our video catalog. This update will allow us to more quickly and efficiently add the highest quality video content to the Xbox Video service."
"As a result, beginning in late February 2014, any Xbox Video content you own as of then, will no longer be playable through the Zune PC client, Zune devices, or Windows Phone 7 devices," the note continues. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. You can still enjoy all of your owned content at XboxVideo.com on your PC or Mac, or on your Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8 & 8.1 PC and tablet, or Windows Phone 8."
That web site, XboxVideo.com, does not exist. Microsoft uses the music.xbox.com URL for its Xbox Music service on the web, so I'd imagine they'll be using video.xbox.com for Xbox Video. But that URL currently doesn't work either. You can visit http://www.xbox.com/video, but that page is just promotional material about the service at the moment, and doesn't let you access your video library or even play previews.
Likewise, you cannot access Xbox Video content on Windows Phone 8 at the moment. But Microsoft did announce recently that it was adding support for Xbox Video to Windows Phone 8, and that update—whatever form it may take—should ship by the end of the year too.
My guess: The changes alluded to in the note above are part of the move to get Xbox Video on the web and on Windows Phone 8, and are perhaps tied to the Xbox One release as well.
Regardless, the news follows an August announcement in which Microsoft halted the purchasing of Xbox Video-based movies and TV shows from Zune Marketplace—accessible from the Zune PC software—as it evolved the underlying platform to support local currency instead of Microsoft Points. I wrote about this change in Zune Marketplace Begins the Long, Slow Goodbye.
Microsoft had previously shut down the Zune web site in October 2012 as it switched from the Zune brand to Xbox Music and Xbox Video.
If you're a Zune device user wondering about your next step, you might consider the Nokia Lumia 520, which costs just $99 and doesn't require a wireless contract. This wonderful little device can also be updated with a 64 GB micro-SD card very cheaply. Check out In Praise of the Nokia Lumia 520 for more info.