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You are about to become DRM roadkill, Part II – Judgement Day

Microsoft is at it again. Back in 2006, I had already written about them stopping support for Playsforsure on new devices, which meant that people who bought music using Microsoft’s Playsforsure DRM infection, would not be able to play their music on new devices, including Microsoft’s own Zune player. This was called one of the more massive screwings of customers by Microsoft.

Well it looks like Microsoft has outdone themselves this time, because they are going to stop supporting their MSN music service:

Customers who have purchased music from Microsoft’s now-defunct MSN Music store are now facing a decision they never anticipated making: commit to which computers (and OS) they want to authorize forever, or give up access to the music they paid for. Why? Because Microsoft has decided that it’s done supporting the service and will be turning off the MSN Music license servers by the end of this summer.

MSN Entertainment and Video Services general manager Rob Bennett sent out an e-mail this afternoon to customers, advising them to make any and all authorizations or deauthorizations before August 31. “As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers,” reads the e-mail seen by Ars. “You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play.”

This doesn’t just apply to the five different computers that PlaysForSure allows users to authorize, it also applies to operating systems on the same machine (users need to reauthorize a machine after they upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, for example). Once September rolls around, users are committed to whatever five machines they may have authorized—along with whatever OS they are running.

This means that people who invested their money in music from MSN store will soon find that their entire music collection is unusable. To me, this is simply unbelievable. This is another clear example of what happens when you buy DRM infected products. And it further shows why piracy seems to be a better choice these days. Also check out this article:

Today, MS is saying that come August 31, a week or four shy of the two-year anniversary of the night of long knives, you will not be able to re-authorise your music. That means that the music is yours to keep. On one PC. As long as it doesn’t crash. Or you don’t update your OS. Or something doesn’t just decide to stop the music playing. If you do any of these things, you just lost your music permanently.

Basically, MS is stealing from you. It has your money, but you can’t have access the services you bought any more. So they are stopping, and legally, you are screwed. Microsoft has got your money though.

We have been saying for years that ANY sort of DRM is unacceptable, and this goes to show you exactly what we mean. Anyone who bought music from MS just got screwed, period, without recourse. It also proves what we have said for almost the same amount of time, Piracy is the Better Choice (R)(TM)(C).

MS has once again proven that if you steal the music, legality aside, you get a better product. Legally purchased music is demonstrably worse than pirated music. There has never been a case that I am aware of of a pirated copy deciding not to play any more because someone in Redmond decided it was inconvenient. You just get a better product, cheaper too, but also illegal.

Read my previous post on this subject to find out how you can recognize DRM infected products in the future so you don’t waste your money on the long term.

Another thing that has me amazed, is that I cannot understand how consumers seem to be so tolerant these days. It seems companies can do to consumers what they want and even rip them off, like Microsoft is now doing, without them even saying anything about it. Such a move from Microsoft should at least have sparked some major PR issues for them if not lawsuits. But consumers these days appear to have a very high level of tolerance. I recently also wrote about the bad quality control at Canon, with regard to their DSLR products. And there you see a similar problem, consumers are having issues with the products not working well, even out of the box, and many are complaining, but it looks like they just accept it for some reason as being normal. When has it become normal for a company to massively screw so many customers on such a large scale, as Microsoft is doing? When has it become normal to buy a DSLR and finding out that it does not work (well) as soon as you power it on? When has it become normal to buy a lens for your DSLR and finding out it only takes soft pictures and doesn’t focus well?

One thing seems to be clear, and that is that if companies are able to do this with customers, it’s because the customers are stupid enough to let it happen.


  1. You are about to become DRM roadkill, Part II - Judgement Day | Software Piracy Update (25/04/2008)
  2. Karel Donk » Archive » Canon EF 50mm f1.2 L - Defective by Design (16/07/2008)


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