Hulu Plus comes to Xbox Live on Friday, and Microsoft let me have an early look along with a Kinect loaner unit to check out voice and motion controls.
If you’re not familiar with Hulu Plus, it’s an $8 per month streaming movie service focused mainly on current television shows. The selection isn’t as broad as Hulu’s free website, but it’s the only way to get Hulu on set-top boxes, iPhones and iPads (without workarounds like PlayOn). It also lets you watch archived back seasons of many television shows, instead of just the most recent episodes.
The most striking thing about Hulu Plus on the Xbox 360 is how closely it resembles Netflix’s console app, and for that matter the entire Xbox 360 interface. Microsoft has imposed a nearly identical design, with a list of sections on the top left and tile-shaped movies and TV selections in a sliding horizontal strip down the middle. Even Hulu Plus’ search function works exactly the same way as Netflix, with a row of letters on top and a strip of results that narrows down as you type. Microsoft’s made some big strides in user interface lately, borrowing much of Windows Phone 7’s uniformity and design flourishes, and it shows here.
Kinect support, however, needs a lot of work.