Microsoft has always locked Xbox owners into its Xbox Live Gold subscription service to access streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu, but that's finally changed. Alongside its announcement of a $399 Kinect-less Xbox One, the company has revealed that Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and all other entertainment apps will be lose their Gold requirement starting in June. The change in strategy was first reported by Ars Technica on Monday evening. Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners will no longer need to maintain a paid Xbox subscription to watch movies on Netflix, TV with Hulu Plus, and popular shows through HBO Go.
Ars Technica also reported that other services would be placed behind the Xbox Live Gold paywall to compensate for the free entertainment apps, but it’s not clear exactly which those will be. The change is being linked directly to the departure of former Xbox chief Don Mattrick, who left Microsoft last year after a confusing Xbox One launch following controversy over initial plans to make the new console require an internet connection. It could also pave the way for a rumored low-cost Xbox "TV" set-top-box. The Xbox subscription changes closely follow similar alterations to Skype’s Premium service. Microsoft recently made Skype group video calling free, unbundling it from an $8.99 monthly subscription charge.
Update May 13th, 11:10AM: On May 13th, Microsoft confirmed that users would be able to stream entertainment apps without paying for apps starting in June. The original article has been updated to reflect this.