This one falls under a category that I’ve found myself increasingly susceptible to in recent days: Because something has worked one way for so long, I assume it just keeps working that way … But it doesn’t. And that’s what happened when it comes to transferring Xbox Video-based TV show and movie content to Windows Phone 8. You can’t.
The question: Confused by his inability to get a movie or TV show he’d purchased from Xbox Video onto his Windows Phone 8 handset, someone pinged me on Twitter to ask how it worked.
The background: With Windows Phone 7.x, you could purchase movies and TV shows (and rent movies) from Xbox Video’s predecessor, Zune Marketplace, and then transfer it to your device over USB. Surely, the modern equivalents of this process—the Windows Phone app, Windows Phone desktop application, or simple drag-and-drop transfer over File Explorer—will work with Windows Phone 8?
None of these methods worked, and after an increasingly frustrating afternoon testing every possible permutation of this, I finally caved and pinged Microsoft. Surely I was missing something.
“Transfer of the movies and TV shows purchased from the Xbox Video store to the phone using the Windows Phone apps is not currently supported,” I was told.
That seems to leave some wiggle room, but trust me, I tried every other possible method too. For example, you can download the content via the Zune PC software—yes, it still works—and then try copying it over to the phone with File Explorer. It doesn’t work.
The error message varies depending on which solution you try, but here’s the message I saw with the Windows Phone (Metro-style) app:
The thing is, the way this used to work is sort of second rate. Both Android and iPhone/iOS support full device-based access to TV shows and movies in the ecosystem’s respective stores, Play and iTunes, and you can purchase/rent and download this content to the device over the air. On Windows Phone 7.x, you had to do a hokey PC sync to make that happen.
At least it worked. In Windows Phone 8, this activity has gone from second rate to non-existent. So this is now the rare example of where we had functionality in the previous version of a Microsoft product and lost it in the otherwise superior new version.
The word “currently” gives me hope that this will be fixed. But still. Not good.