I find it amazing that MS has still not figured out how to avoid punking their customers and partners. The wonderful DRM embedded in earlier versions of Windows Media Player is bad enough. Then came PlaysForSure, which many people say is more like “PlaysForShit.” There are many instances of the PlaysForSure files not transferring, or requiring multiple updates of software on the PC and firmware on the player. Plays For Sure as a slogan implies that your music will Just Work, but that is obviously not the case, based on how many complaints you can find online with mere seconds of research.
So, MS decided that the whole integrated solution thing Apple has going is a good idea. They partnered up with iRiver and MTV to produce the Clix and Urge. The device and service were designed together, to ensure that things actually would Play For Sure. So far so good, even if it did effectively snub all the previous MS partners who had signed on for the Janus DRM train (anyone think it’s interesting that Janus had two faces?), as well as the hardware partners whose machines hadn’t been tested and certified for the MTV Urge service. They’ll probably work, but if it’s not marketed together, many people will assume incompatibility.
And now the latest change to Microsoft’s music roadmap – Zune. Not only does this get Microsoft involved in the hardware market for media players, effectively telling all the manufacturers who thought they were partners to piss off, it also introduces a new Zune-only store. That’s right, the Janus DRM-encumbered music you thought you owned from Rhapsody or Napster or whereever won’t play on Zune. You’ll have to buy it all again, if you want to play it on that new slick MS-branded player.
Might I suggest never buying any DRM-encumbered media? The result of ever buying any music or video from a service that puts DRM on it is that you don’t control your own property. You may think you own the latest Beyonce album, but if you bought it from Napster or iTunes, you don’t own a damned thing. You have a right to listen to it only on the device you bought it for and any new technology is likely to render your music collection so much junk.
Just for an added stab in the back of their customers, the Zune’s vaunted wifi sharing system will add DRM to any file, including public domain and Creative Commons files. For the public domain files, that’s just evil. For the CC files, that’s actually a violation of the CC license, which states unequivocally that no encryption can be applied to the file by anyone.
To recap, DRM is evil, Microsoft hates their customers, Microsoft can be trusted only to betray their business partners, and DRM is evil.