It's time to scrap the Xbox tax

iPlayer for Xbox
iPlayer on Xbox: better late than never

Hurrah for Microsoft! Just four years after the iPlayer turned up on the Wii and two years after it appeared on the PS3, the iPlayer is finally available to Xbox Live users.

We've been banging on about iPlayer on Xbox for years, because the problem was never a technical one: it was Microsoft's bone-headed refusal to let anybody get their hands on iPlayer for free.

It looks like Microsoft has finally seen the light, and you won't need to pay for a Gold account if you want to watch stuff from the Beeb.

Unfortunately, you'll still need to pay if you want to do anything else.

Pay to play

While iPlayer's free, it's the exception. You still need to pay for an Xbox Live Gold account if you want to use other free services such as 4oD or YouTube -- and you also need a Gold account if you want to access services you're already paying for, such as Netflix or Sky. That's crazy.

One of my friends discovered the Netflix thing last night, and posted to Facebook: "I have to pay Microsoft to use Netflix (which I pay for) over my broadband connection (which I pay for) because I'm using their machine (which I paid for)?" After some very bad words, he added: "As far as I can see, the service they wish to charge me for is 'Having already sold me a machine capable of connecting to both the Internet and a television.' Anyone else charging for this?"

To the best of my knowledge, the answer is no. I don't have to pay extra to access YouTube on my phone, or Netflix on my Apple TV, or Facebook on my iPad -- yes, the Facebook app for Xbox needs a Gold account too -- and I can only think of two reasons why Microsoft is doing this.

Reason one is "because we're greedy".

Reason two is "because we're really greedy."

Microsoft gets money from our hardware purchases and a hefty royalty on every game we buy. It doesn't need us to pay for access to free online content too.

We wouldn't accept this on a Windows tablet, or on a Windows PC, and we shouldn't accept it on the Xbox.

It's time Microsoft scrapped its Xbox tax.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.