Finally, Star Wars Goes Digital

Posted on April 7, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Movies & TV with 0 Comments

Finally, Star Wars Goes Digital

Since I literally just ripped my collection of Star Wars Blu-Ray discs to 1080p video files—you’re welcome, world—Disney has finally announced a long-overdue milestone: All six Star Wars movies are heading to digital video stores on Friday, backed by tons of bonus content. And yes, that includes Xbox Video.

(Music and video releases used to always happen on Tuesdays, but there’s been a movement to change release dates to Fridays, and I assume the schedule for the Star Wars releases is part of that change.)

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“Since the debut of the first film nearly 40 years ago, Star Wars has become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans from every generation,” Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman says in a prepared statement. “It’s only fitting that audiences enjoy this legendary saga and its many fascinating behind-the-scenes stories on a wide variety of platforms, and we’re very excited to finally bring all six films to Digital HD for the first time.”

All six Star Wars films—including the original trilogy from 1977 to 1983 and the prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2005—will be available on the major video services, including iTunes of course, but also Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and, yes, Xbox Video. (And perhaps others. There are others, right?) This can and should spark a discussion about which digital video service(s) are right for you, or whether you should stick to the less-portable Blu-Ray format.

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My take: Amazon offers the best compatibility across devices, and you can play these movies on Windows PCs and tablets, Android devices, and iPad and other iOS devices, but not Windows Phone. So I’ll be going that route. But you should avoid Google since the movies can’t play in HD on the web or at all in Windows sans web. If you really want this to work on Windows Phone for some reason, Xbox Video is your only choice. And on portable Windows 8+ machines of all stripes, you will get the best battery life watching videos via Xbox Video.

You can pre-order now on all services.

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On Xbox Video, the complete set of six films (with bonus content, see below) costs $99.99 in SD format. Which, come on, you should never buy. Especially since the HD version of the set is also $99.99. Individual movies are $19.99 in HD format.

Indeed, individual movies are $19.99 everywhere. But Amazon seems to have the cheapest price on the set, at $89.99, as does Google Play. Apple’s iTunes doesn’t appear to offer the set as a single unit, but you can buy the individual movies for $19.99, so the full set is about $120.

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To be clear, any real Star Wars fan would buy all six if they were going to buy anything. I think I’ve purchased the original trilogy over 10 times in various formats and versions. I will happily do so again.

Hooray!