UPDATE: Microsoft made it official.
Original Article: Unlike many of its competitors, Microsoft forces Xbox users to pay for the company's console subscription service, Xbox Live Gold, if they want to stream content from media apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video. Although nobody (on the consumer end) has ever really liked this, it's been that way for so long that it's just accepted as a reality. Wanna watch House of Cards via your Xbox 360–well, you're going to have to pony up the $60 per year for Xbox Live Gold alongside Netflix's monthly fee. It's always been a bummer, especially when you consider the fact that other popular streaming video devices like the Roku and PlayStation do not have any subscription requirements to access streaming apps.
Apparently, this could be changing. Finally.
Ars Technica cites multiple Microsoft sources who claim that the company is planning to tear down the Golden paywall. "According to our sources, Xbox 360 and Xbox One users will soon no longer need a paid subscription to Xbox Live Gold to access Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming media apps," says Ars.
That's the good news. Of course, no final decisions have been made, but this announcement could come as early as Microsoft's June 9th E3 keynote.
The bad, or at least tempering news is that Microsoft is considering putting other things behind the Golden paywall to compensate. It's unknown at the time whether or not this would include apps that are currently free to use, or just new content that Microsoft is about to debut via the recently announced Xbox original entertainment studio.
But for Xbox (360 and One) owners who don't really play their games online and like to use the console to stream all of their video–this is pretty great news.
Ars' sources say that this long-time-coming move has a lot to do with the leadership shuffle at Microsoft's Xbox division. Last July, Don Mattrick left to be the new CEO of Zynga, either due to the botched Xbox One unveiling and subsequent DRM blowback, internal strife over his position in the company, or both–depending on whom you ask.
Image via Xbox.com