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Microsoft Brings Back DRM 414

Posted by timothy
from the perhaps-skydiving-is-not-for-you dept.
Barence writes "Microsoft yesterday unveiled its MSN Mobile Music service — and a surprise return to digital rights management (DRM). While companies such as Apple and Amazon have finally moved to music download services free of copy protection, MSN Mobile locks tracks to the mobile handset they are downloaded to. It also charges more than the other services per track, and offers no way to transfer your tracks to your new phone when you upgrade. The company's Head of Mobile UK spoke to PC Pro about the launch, but his answers are almost as baffling as the service itself. Best quote: Q: 'If I buy these songs on your service — and they're locked to my phone — what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?' A: 'Well, I think you know the answer to that.'"
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Microsoft Brings Back DRM

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  • Clueless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:39PM (#26564277) Homepage

    So many great quotes from a certain Hugh Griffiths, Head of Mobile at Microsoft UK:

    We'll be looking to enhance the service if we get some interest from consumers

    PR101: Don't tell journalists that no one cares about your product.

    At the moment we don't have the functionality in-house to provide a mechanism for transferring between mobile phones and PC

    CS101: Microsoft doesn't have the technology in-house to do a simple file transfer?

    I didn't realise phones were churning that quickly in the marketplace these days

    How clueless can you be? This guy almost makes me feel good about the other news of the day (Microsoft to laying off 5,000).

    I suspect a Microsoft conspiracy to reassure their shareholders that indeed, getting rid of deadwood will not hurt business, on the contrary! He is a living proof (assuming he is one of the "chosen").

    --
    FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- where geeks are their own boss

    • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:52PM (#26564521)

      Actually I read it as more arrogant than clueless, or perhaps hostile would be the word. He definately didn't defend as much as say "Yeah, we don't care" to most of the questions.

      • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Funny)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:10PM (#26564837) Homepage

        He definately didn't defend as much as say "Yeah, we don't care" to most of the questions.

        To my ears it sounded a little different. It was more like, "We don't know what we're doing, we're semi-incompetent, and I'm generally unprepared for your questions, but maybe we'll figure this out before the project gets abandoned."

        • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Funny)

          by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@NOSpam.davidgerard.co.uk> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:37PM (#26565289) Homepage
          Yep. He sounds like "we're trying to sell something that's crappier than Vista on a Zune, I know it and I gave up hope long ago. Kill me now."
          • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Funny)

            by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:57PM (#26567437)

            Q: If I buy these songs on your service - and they're locked to my phone - what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?
            A: Well, I think you know the answer to that.

            Hmmm
            Q: If you try to run a business with your services and business model as they are now, what will happen to them in six months time?
            A: I think you know the answer to that."

            There, fixed it for you.

      • Re:Clueless (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:20PM (#26565937)

        Even if that were the case, he was still a dumbass -- if you don't care, then don't give an interview!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by m509272 (1286764)
      They mistakenly missed this guy.....
      • Re:Clueless (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant.j.warkentin@gma i l . com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:03PM (#26564747) Homepage Journal
        This dipshit probably has a golden parachute clause in his contract somewhere. They always do. Maybe he's the idiot nephew of someone high-up in Redmond, that's why he's with Microsoft Mobile UK, they sent him off where they thought he couldn't do any real harm. Woops.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darundal (891860)
        Actually, I would be willing to bet that this guy, and anyone else in any significant position in this project, are people who they can't get fire/lay off easily for one reason or another, so they are basically giving them a project that they know these people will bomb so they have a good basis to get rid of these people. Kind of like a corporate version of the Golgafrinchan B-Ark.
    • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Funny)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:58PM (#26564657) Homepage Journal

      All I can say is... Wow... What the heck? Was this a joke or did he really say those things?
      This sounds like something you would see on Futurama.

      A reporter talking to Mom talking about Moms Music Network.
      "If I buy these songs on your service - and they're locked to my phone - what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?"

      Mom: "Well, I think you know the answer to that."

      Bender; "Your boned!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He's real enough:

        http://www.nma.co.uk/Articles/33040/Hugh+Griffiths+to+head+up+mobile+at+MSN.html [nma.co.uk]

        Interestingly he's responsible for i-mode at O2, and we all know how much of an impact that made...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by xaxa (988988)

          He's real enough:

          http://www.nma.co.uk/Articles/33040/Hugh+Griffiths+to+head+up+mobile+at+MSN.html [nma.co.uk]

          Interestingly he's responsible for i-mode at O2, and we all know how much of an impact that made...

          Hey, I had an iMode phone! I even met someone else with one once.

          It was great, because every month they'd extend the free email + browsing trial by another month, presumably in an effort to get more subscribers. Except the phone was a bit crap (N343i) with poor reception and a low battery life. Still, I was annoyed when I "dropped" it in a pint of cider. It did manage to sent an MMS while submerged though. But it was the last message it sent :-(.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilkasper (1292798)
      I see this service being less popular than the Zune.
      • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:37PM (#26565271)
        hey i have a zune, and i enjoy it.
      • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Informative)

        by orclevegam (940336) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:37PM (#26565287) Journal
        Has Microsoft secretly stumbled onto some previously unknown technique for making money off of doomed products that none of us have heard of? That's the only explanation for the constant parade of suck that's been pouring out of Microsoft in the recent years. I mean, they've never really been known for doing a quality job, but at least they've traditionally made products that have sold if for no other reason than Microsoft's standard unsavory practices. Now comes the Zune, Vista, "new" hotmail (on par with "New Coke" it seems), and now these plans for what sounds to be one of the worst DRM implementations ever at a time when their competitors are moving to distance themselves from DRM and the recent customer backlash surrounding it. I honestly can't understand how Microsoft could possibly be this boneheaded. At least things are looking, if not exactly good, at least encouraging on the Windows 7 front.
        • by Ecuador (740021) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:35PM (#26566157) Homepage

          You missed the most obvious explanation!
          MS went to the labels and told them, hey, we want to sell mp3's to users. The labels responded sure, but you have to use DRM since you are so good at it (wink wink nudge nudge), besides we would otherwise have to charge you more (since users would actually be buying content instead of some limited rent). MS says, we don't think the users will like this DRM, but we will give it a try. So, they come up with the most incredibly stupid DRM business plan in history (after the gnomes' attempt to DRM underpants), to prove to the labels, once and for all, that DRM cannot work!!!!
          Amazing huh?
          I am not being funny here, if you look at the IQ bell curve, you will see that this scenario is more likely than the alternate of finding a guy with a 69 IQ to head an MS department!
          Yes, I know they found one to head an entire nation a few years ago, but that does not improve the chances!

    • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tkrotchko (124118) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:08PM (#26564811) Homepage

      ">I didn't realise phones were churning that quickly in the marketplace these days

      How clueless can you be? This guy almost makes me feel good about the other news of the day (Microsoft to laying off 5,000)."
      ----

      This jumped out at me as well. I suspect he was being both sarcastic and a little clueless. That was one of the last questions that was asked, many of them questioning the business model, pricing, DRM. This guy was looking for the "gee, what an exciting service!" kind of non-question. I suspect he was fed up with the questioner by this point.

      I'm assuming he must understand the churn rate for phone, right? It's probably more than a year, less than two. But I can't imagine he would expect people to pay about $3.50 (1.79 pounds) for songs to throw away; at least he couldn't expect people to buy many songs at this price.

      Perhaps he's counting on the phones being so locked down that you must buy the songs from MS?

    • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:11PM (#26564875)

      Man it really is as bad as the summary makes it.

      With the likes of iTunes and Amazon offering DRM-free music that you can play on any device, why would anyone choose the MSN Mobile service?

      There may well be people who just want to listen to the track on their mobile alone.

      Yeah and there may well be people with severe OCD who purchase music from your store and then immediately delete it because the bits didn't download in the right order, but I wouldn't bet the farm on chasing that demographic.

      Jesus, they seem to be basing the whole thing on the hope that they can trick people into thinking they have to buy music from the MSN store if they have a Windows Mobile device. What the hell is that shit about "loyal to MSN". What? If anyone uses MSN it's because it came up by default in IE and they're too stupid to figure out how to change it. My mom might use MSN, but you can be damn sure she's not going to be buying music for her mobile phone anytime soon. Way to know your audience there pal.

      Good grief, someone needs to post a 24 hour guard by this guy, Ballmer is going to disappear his ass posthaste.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Good grief, someone needs to post a 24 hour guard by this guy, Ballmer is going to disappear his ass posthaste.

        Well, you are making the assumption that this arrogance does not exist in the higher ranks. I personally feel that Microsoft is occupied by too many people out of touch with reality. Mind you there are departments that seem to slowly be seeing the light outside of their ivory tower, some of these including those working on IE8 and Microsoft office.

        • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:02PM (#26565673)

          Well, you are making the assumption that this arrogance does not exist in the higher ranks. I personally feel that Microsoft is occupied by too many people out of touch with reality.

          I just had a two day meeting with a client who represents a large medical company.

          A two day meeting to tell me how much of a hurry he's in.

          Large companies seem to infect people with this sort of brain rot.

      • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Interesting)

        by panaceaa (205396) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:10PM (#26565803) Homepage Journal

        I'm no PR guy, I'm an engineer. And if I were put into Hugh Griffiths' shoes, I'm not so sure I'd have answered the questions any differently. He knows the product sucks: It's more expensive, non-transferable, and behind the times technically. He's probably IMMENSELY frustrated that they could only release this crap given the building products they have to work with. So, he grits his teeth, does an interview, and does his best to not say anything negative. But you can just tell he's disappointed.

        If I were him, actually, I wouldn't have done the interview. That's probably his big mistake.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by nabsltd (1313397)

          He's probably IMMENSELY frustrated that they could only release this crap given the building products they have to work with.

          So, what you're saying is that no matter how bad the product is, Microsoft feels they must release it to the public.

          Makes sense, and it explains Vista quite nicely.

      • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Funny)

        by ciaohound (118419) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:15PM (#26565873)

        "it's a toe in the water for MSN Mobile"

        You see it as a toe in the water, Hugh Griffith. We see it as a chair up your ass.

    • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:15PM (#26564921)

      How clueless can you be? This guy almost makes me feel good about the other news of the day (Microsoft to laying off 5,000).

      What you lack is perspective. You see, the whole time the individual was thinking "fuck you." But he managed to come up with different answers. See? There's a marked improvement if you understand all the variables in play.

    • Here are some of Ballmer's comments from a conference call with analysts:

      * "We think we have taken the right degree of action in terms of reducing the cost base."
      * "We are taking out somewhere between 5 percent and 15 percent of the cost line... which we think, in this environment relative to the reset in the economy, is probably the right level."
      * "Our model is not for a quick rebound (in PC sales)."

    • by Ifni (545998)

      It actually seemed to me more like he was saddled with this dog of a project and is hoping it dies quickly so he can move on to something that might actually have wings. It seemed he knew they were years behind their competitors and that they didn't really have a viable plan, but that his hands were tied and that it was probably some pet project of a higher-up, or some commitment that Microsoft had made years ago that they were bringing to market for no other reason than they had contractual obligations wi

  • !surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:40PM (#26564283) Journal

    seriously, who is really surprised microsoft did this? sure other companies (itunes/amazon) got smart and are moving away from the DRMs, but it's not surprising at all to see MS stick with it.

    • Re:!surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:50PM (#26564481) Homepage

      Lock-in has worked pretty well for Microsoft so far. They have no motivation to change strategies. They will have to suffer a near-death experience before they will actually pay attention to what the user wants and what the market is delivering.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hansamurai (907719)

        Unfortunately (for the customer), Microsoft's relationship with music provides one of the single best examples of why DRM simply does not work: PlaysForSure.

      • Re:!surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Myrv (305480) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:56PM (#26565579)

        Lock-in has worked pretty well for Microsoft so far. They have no motivation to change strategies.

        Problem is this isn't lock in. Not in the traditional sense at least. If they had said, "you can only transfer songs to another Microsoft enabled phone." That would be lock in. The user will want to keep buying Microsoft phones to keep their music. By nuking the music when you get rid of the phone there is no incentive to buy another Microsoft phone.

        And yes, the person may be locked in to using a particular phone, but that doesn't work either because now the person isn't buying any new phones (with new Micrsoft OS licenses to go with them).

        I guess you could argue that the phones OS is the lock-in factor and they are milking that. You want a MS phone? Be prepared to buy all your music again. But that is a dangerous strategy when there are plenty of healthy platforms still competing.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:40PM (#26564299) Journal

    Apple and Amazon have finally moved to music download services free of copy protection

    I'm sorry, I was under the impression that Amazon's music service has always been DRM free. Could you please point me to a source showing that their service was ever under DRM? Did they offer a music service before Amazon MP3 [businesswire.com]?

    I don't know why everyone got excited when Apple went DRM-free, I've been buying DRM free MP3 singles from Amazon for over a year.

    I don't think Microsoft is alone in their cling-to-DRM mentality. I think this will bomb but does it really even matter? It's just going to be another Zune/XBox bomb all over again offset by their other divisions so it's here to stay whether the market & investors say it should be or not. Oh well, if they want to lose money, let 'em. It does take more work for me to put my MP3s on my phone, maybe joe consumer won't put up with that and live with the DRM? We'll see after an upgrade though ...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Phoenixhawk (1188721)
      Blah, Soon enough people will go out of their way to pirate the DRM version. After all look what DRM did for Spore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      Xbox bomb? The XBox and 360 are actually doing pretty well. Now the Zune... Well now that ITunes is going DRM free the Zune is even less interesting.
      Too bad really. Competition is usually a good thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537)

        Well now that ITunes is going DRM free the Zune is even less interesting.

        Why? I think the Zune is more interesting now that iTunes is DRM-free. Now you can buy songs from iTunes and play them on your Zune.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eldavojohn (898314) *

        Xbox bomb? The XBox and 360 are actually doing pretty well. Now the Zune... Well now that ITunes is going DRM free the Zune is even less interesting. Too bad really. Competition is usually a good thing.

        I was talking about how if any other company had entered the console market in the fashion that Microsoft did, they would have sank faster than the Titanic. Microsoft threw it's weight around and took losses heavily. You may argue that all console makers do but not on this level [bbc.co.uk]. Let me quote the BBC for you:

        For the first time Microsoft is revealing how much money it is losing on its Xbox game console.

        Documents filed with the US financial watchdog show that Microsoft's Home and Entertainment division, which includes the Xbox, lost $177m in the three months to 30 September.

        Since the Xbox was launched Microsoft has been forced to cut its price twice to boost sales.

        The documents also reveal that four of the seven divisions of the company are operating at a loss.

        For a while they were just burning money there. I'm not saying it's a bad or inferior console, I am impressed with the Xbox360 but I will stand by my statement that the initial offering of the Xbox

        • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:16PM (#26564941) Homepage Journal

          The 360 is only doing well because Microsoft actually has a very good product. Of course the did a lot of the ground work with the original XBox.
          1. They have the best online system. Sony's is a bad joke and Nintendo's is very limited.
          2. They made very good Developer tools.
          3. They made a great game franchise "Halo"
          4. Now they are embracing Netflix for movie downloads which is frankly brilliant and so not like Microsoft.
          5. They now have the lowest entry point with the Arcade.
          Even then they are in second place to Nintendo. Frankly the 360 beats the Wii in power, and online. The Wii is doing so well because of the controls and the great first party software from Nintendo.
          If any thing Microsoft showed a large chunk of effort, humility, and innovation in the game console market.
          The exact opposite of their standard business practices.

          • Halo makes me cry (Score:4, Informative)

            by ericrost (1049312) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:21PM (#26565011) Homepage Journal

            It was originally a PC title that had been under development for 3+ years (I was following a lot of articles about it) that was meant to be something close to planetside in scope. It was going to be the Ultimate pc multiplayer shooter and you can see the potential with the vehicle combat and really well balanced weapons. Then it got stuck on a console forever when bungee ran out of money and MS swooped in seeing the potential of the franchise.

          • by mark72005 (1233572) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:36PM (#26565255)
            In what way is Xbox Live better than PS network, which is free?
      • by AuMatar (183847)

        Xbox has sold a lot, but it hasn't turned a profit- in fact it's billions of dollars into the red. So yes, that's a bomb.

        • Yeah, I don't know the numbers, but consoles often sell at a loss for several years in the hopes of making money in the long run. Any hopes of turning profitable must have been set off a while by the extremely high defective-rate for 360s (at one point, I heard the number 16%), which has caused them to spend buttloads of money replacing defective units.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          How much are they making on XBox live?

      • Well now that ITunes is going DRM free the Zune is even less interesting.
        Too bad really. Competition is usually a good thing.

        Do you think Apple would have pushed so hard for unlocking iTunes if their player was the only one on the market?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UnknowingFool (672806)
        I think the OP is referring to Xbox in the business sense of profit/loss. Even though they have overtaken PS 3 in for #2 in gaming consoles, the Xbox division has been operating in the red until the last few quarters. Over the lifetime of the Xbox and Xbox 360, the division has lost money on in the range of $7 billion. If it were any other company, that division would have folded by now as investors would have questioned the MS strategy of pursuing unprofitable products that may take decades to break eve
    • Even longer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:52PM (#26564533)

      I don't know why everyone got excited when Apple went DRM-free, I've been buying DRM free MP3 singles from Amazon for over a year.

      Well since Apple was actually selling DRM free music from major labels with iTunes Plus even BEFORE the Amazon store opened, I agree with your surprise.

      When EMI finally broke the stranglehold on DRM by agreeing to a DRM free iTunes presence, the other studios decided to try and break Apple by agreeing to all be in the Amazon store. It didn't really work out for them but eventually it worked out for the rest of us, in a way that companies like eMusic had not managed prior.

      I don't think Microsoft is alone in their cling-to-DRM mentality.

      The real question is, how much are labels still clinging to DRM? They are the only ones that really matter in the end. The agreement for all of them to sell DRM free music in more than one store was a watershed moment, but is this weird Microsoft arrangement something that had already been in the works or is it some new backsliding?

      • Re:Even longer (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:05PM (#26565723) Homepage Journal

        The real question is, how much are labels still clinging to DRM?

        I, for one, hope they stick with Dumb Restrictions on Media. DRM is a sick joke, and DRM music can do nothing but doom them further.

        The RIAA labels are no longer needed by anybody. Twenty years ago the price of the tech was so high the artists NEEDED a label. Now every bar band in the country has a CD, and there are a lot of very good ones.

        When we are free of RIAA labels and they and the RIAA are dead, the independant bands and labels will get a chance to get radio airplay.

        For every RIAA CD there are 100 indie CDs. For every RIAA hit there are 100 excellent indie tunes you never heard. I, for one, want the indies to get airplay, and it won't happen until the buggy whip manufacturers are dead and gone.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:52PM (#26564539) Homepage

      Apple and Amazon have finally moved to music download services free of copy protection

      I'm sorry, I was under the impression that Amazon's music service has always been DRM free.

      Well if you want to pick nits, nobody explicitly said Amazon ever had DRM on their music download store. You could argue that Amazon has "moved to music download services free of copy protection" in that they moved into music download services, and those services don't use DRM.

      I don't know why everyone got excited when Apple went DRM-free, I've been buying DRM free MP3 singles from Amazon for over a year.

      Is it possible that you're just a bit touchy about people hyping Apple? I mean, we could debate the importance of iTunes dropping DRM on all songs, but they are the biggest music retailer in the US (including brick&mortar stores). That alone seems enough to make the transition noteworthy.

      Anyway, you're right that DRM isn't dead yet. Amazon, Apple, and Netflix are still using DRM on video, AFAIK. Also, Microsoft *needs* DRM to stay alive in order to keep WMA alive. Ignoring issues related to DRM, what's the point of using WMA when you have the option of AAC or MP3?

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:11PM (#26564857) Journal

        Well if you want to pick nits, nobody explicitly said Amazon ever had DRM on their music download store. You could argue that Amazon has "moved to music download services free of copy protection" in that they moved into music download services, and those services don't use DRM.

        Are you serious? That would be like if I was introduced to my friend's new girlfriend and I said "Hey, Al, I see Peter and you have moved to dating girls that don't have herpes!"

        Oh, if anyone wanted to nitpick I could just say that I mean Al is now dating women and Peter is the one who used to date someone with herpes. Ridiculous. That sentence makes it sound like Amazon used to have DRM and they got smart and moved away from it. To my knowledge, they've always offered me DRM free MP3s. I don't even think you can have DRM on MP3s making Amazon MP3 DRM free!

        Is it possible that you're just a bit touchy about people hyping Apple?

        Is it possible that I have a personal bias against iTunes? Yes. Yes it is. No Linux support (Amazon runs fine on it), a bloated program that makes me install QuickTime, it reindexes, doesn't let me transfer songs on iPods, wastes CPU, installs a Windows Service, etc. I could go on for hours. And then a family member calls me wondering why her computer runs so damned slow and why she can't have 1000+ songs in iTunes.

        iTunes is horrible in my opinion and it gets all the press and love and there are other options out there (like Amazon + Amarok). Yeah, sorry about the bitchy rant but you asked me about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BMonger (68213)
      I use a Mac at home and one day finally remembered that Amazon had a service. So I decided to go their first as I knew they were cheaper. I went to go fill up my cart with some albums but as far as I could tell you could only buy one album per purchase. Even worse if I went to buy singles I had to make a new transaction per song. Has the service improved since then? After I bought one single I went back to my DRM laden and slightly more expensive iTunes store. Although maybe there is an easier way to
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dnormant (806535)

        I use their one click album purchase. Most albums are $9.99.I've found that if I order multiple albums within several minutes of each other that all go on one CC transaction. Then, of course, I burn my wife a copy.

        I don't know if they support the Mac. They should!

    • "I was under the impression that Amazon's music service has always been DRM free."

      i think you're right, actually (not entirely sure, though).
      Now if only Amazon's "Audible" service would ditch DRM we'd be in good shape.

      Microsoft Mobile DRM, eh? Maybe they're planning to cough up a "Zune Phone" after all...

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Some might say that while Amazon never moved their music service away from DRM (since it never had DRM in the first place), their opening of a music service without DRM could be considered a move away from DRM from Amazon since Unbox (Their movie service) has (or at least had) some pretty nasty DRM and existed for at least a year or two before Amazon MP3.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sanyacid (768747)

      I don't know why everyone got excited when Apple went DRM-free, I've been buying DRM free MP3 singles from Amazon for over a year.

      Well, you probably didn't know that Amazon MP3 store is not available for "The rest of the world".
      Amazon MP3 store means nothing to people outside the USA (that's a bounch of people!).

      I happen to live outside the USA and that's the reason why I am very excited about iTunes going DRM free.

    • You assume that most people know or care what DRM is... they don't, not until it directly affects them. And even then, they're not going to be told "Well the DRM prevents you from transferring this stuff to your new phone". They'll instead hear "sorry, this is not compatible with your new phone".

      And because their target audience seems to be people who are not aware that there isa non-microsoft choice (ie msn mobile users who will use whatever their phone comes with), competition doesn't help much.

  • by djupedal (584558)

    Slashdot is a Microsoft shill....

  • Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by ivan256 (17499) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:48PM (#26564427)

    "We're looking to gouge customers who are too stupid to look elsewhere."

  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:49PM (#26564451)

    I'm trying to think of something witty to put here but I can't stop laughing long enough to breathe. Almost everything I come up with starts with In Soviet Russia.....

  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:49PM (#26564453)

    ....you get morons sitting around a conference table convincing themselves that this is a good a idea. Microsoft reports revenue shortfalls because of wasteful, stupid ideas like this.

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      How did these Microsoft Managers with ideas like this keep their jobs and not get laid off?
  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:52PM (#26564517) Journal

    This is the kinder, gentler Microsoft we heard about just yesterday?

  • Hilarious... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:52PM (#26564523)

    This guy's answers are hilarious. They only make sense in a universe where everything is inherently locked down, and your customers are idiots to be abused.

    Why has Microsoft gone back to DRM ...? It's a first step. ... We'll be looking to enhance the service if we get some interest from consumers. ... At the moment, to be honest with you, we don't have the functionality in-house to provide a mechanism for transferring between mobile phones and PC.

    You don't really have to provide a "mechanism" if you just left the system open. If the files were non-DRM and the phone had an open interface (e.g. you plug in a USB cable and can browse/transfer files on it), then the transferring step is trivial.

    With the likes of iTunes and Amazon offering DRM-free music that you can play on any device, why would anyone choose the MSN Mobile service?
    There may well be people who just want to listen to the track on their mobile alone

    Which, again, would be trivially easy with an open system. If the phone were open, I could download a track from Amazon and put it on my phone. So the only reason to use the MSN service is "because of lock-in."

    And in response to the question:

    What is your message to consumers - why should I come to you instead of Amazon or iTunes? What do you offer that none of your competitors do?

    ...his answer actually doesn't contain an answer. He just mentions that some people are using the service. Without being explicit, he's basically saying "some users won't know any better."

    Can you really expect people to buy music that's locked to a device they upgrade every 12 to 18 months?
    I didn't realise phones were churning that quickly in the marketplace these days. ...

    Wow. Just... wow. That's impressive market research on their part. They are not sure how long people keep their cellphones. And they see no issue with requiring digital files to expire whenever the hardware does.

    This overpriced and highly restricted product has a clear future ahead...

    • Re:Hilarious... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:04PM (#26564751) Homepage

      You don't really have to provide a "mechanism" if you just left the system open. If the files were non-DRM and the phone had an open interface (e.g. you plug in a USB cable and can browse/transfer files on it), then the transferring step is trivial.

      Not only that, but you're talking about Microsoft-- the company that makes the desktop OS on most PCs as well as the OS on a good percentage of smartphones. If they can't make a mechanism work on to sync between their own desktop OS and their own phone OS, they're pretty well f*#$ed.

      Wow. Just... wow. That's impressive market research on their part. They are not sure how long people keep their cellphones. And they see no issue with requiring digital files to expire whenever the hardware does.

      That's they don't know that people sometimes replace their phone within a year isn't the part that bothers me about that question. Hell, let's suppose that 12-18 months is too short an estimate of how long people hold onto their phones. Let's say, instead, that it's 5 years, which is a pretty high number. Still, let's go with that for the sake of argument. It still doesn't address the question-- "Can you really expect people to buy music that's locked to a device they upgrade every 5 years?"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nedlohs (1335013)

        For higher end phones people might keep them for a few years, but in the UK a normal mobile phone contract (with a free phone) is 12 or 18 months. At the end of that I would expect (if they are anything like their US counterparts) they offer you another free phone if you'll sign for another 12 or 18 month contract.

        People who get an iphone or whatever and probably pay upfront for part of the phone might just keep the one they have, but almost everyone who got the freeby (well embedded in the monthly charges)

    • by BigBuckHunter (722855) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:14PM (#26564913)
      This just in. Microsoft will now be laying off "5001" workers.

      BBH
    • This guy's answers are hilarious. They only make sense in a universe where everything is inherently locked down, and your customers are idiots to be abused.

      Don't know if you've noticed, but that is the MSN universe, in a nutshell. For that matter, it's a lot of the Microsoft universe. And it's big.

    • Re:Hilarious... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:56PM (#26565587)

      "This guy's answers are hilarious. They only make sense in a universe where everything is inherently locked down, and your customers are idiots to be abused."

      The whole thing is incredibly stupid, but, that's the beauty of a free society. Everyone is free to be incredibly stupid but you can just ignore it. The real questions to be asked are:

      1. Why are you downloading songs to your cell phone?
      B. Why are you buying them from Microsoft?

  • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:53PM (#26564545) Homepage Journal

    Q: "If I buy these songs on your service â" and they're locked to my phone â" what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?"
    A: "Well, I think you know the answer to that."

    I know its microsoft we're dealing with here, and the default way to fill in the blanks is by assuming they will screw you; but, is there a possibility that there is an easy walk-around to this DRM, (sort of like the one in itunes) and he's being vague about it at the moment to keep the media companies happy?

    i can't imagine MS would be THAT stupid to ignore such obvious common sense in the face of such steep competition. can they really be that out of touch? are they intentionally trying to fail?

  • by causality (777677) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:55PM (#26564597)

    While companies such as Apple and Amazon have finally moved to music download services free of copy protection, MSN Mobile locks tracks to the mobile handset they are downloaded to. It also charges more than the other services per track, and offers no way to transfer your tracks to your new phone when you upgrade.

    This is why it contradicts itself. If [A] piracy is a problem (represents lost sales, etc.) and [B] DRM is the correct response to this problem, then it does not follow that a system using a rather strict form of DRM would charge more per track. If anything, this should make their prices cheaper, especially considering that the non-transferrability would cause some repeat purchases with no additional expenses incurred by the seller.

    The company's Head of Mobile UK spoke to PC Pro about the launch, but his answers are almost as baffling as the service itself. Best quote: Q: "If I buy these songs on your service â" and they're locked to my phone â" what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?" A: "Well, I think you know the answer to that.""

    He is being unusually honest about this, although I don't think that's courage on his part but rather a reliance on the apathy of the average customer.

  • by FriendSite.com (1208220) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:01PM (#26564697) Homepage

    Answer... We'll be looking to enhance the service if we get some interest from consumers

    Real Answer... We've hurriedly acquired some third party that provides a service that we kind of want and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it's profitable and works.

    Answer... At the moment we don't have the functionality in-house to provide a mechanism for transferring between mobile phones and PC

    Real Answer... We've blindly bought this company on a me-too whim - I have no idea what they do, and we're kind of regretting it that customers haven't thrown a ticker tape party for us, people do that for Apple when they release something cool.. WHHHHHHYYYY can't they do that for us :-(

    Answer... I didn't realise phones were churning that quickly in the marketplace these days

    Real Answer... I'm used to working in a big corporation where my incompetence and lack of on-the-trigger knowledge is drowned out by the number of people who work there. It means I have no idea about the product, where it'll go, how it will perform or how it works. I've just been told by my director to "Go do something like Apple or Amazon and we'll sort it all out later" ...

    There.. fixed it for you Mr Griffiths

  • I mean, sure it's surprising that people would do something like this, but it's also probably been in the works since before Apple made their announcement.

    Otherwise, MS has made it clear they are trying to protect the 'rights' of the companies producing content by tying in protection with their OS. Trying to prevent unencrypted content from being sent over video connections or such. I'm not a video/audiophile, so I don't recall the specifics, but I'm sure someone can list them if needed.
  • ... Their future downloadable software business models depend on it!
    They would hate to have in place that you can actually purchase a single purchase and NOT have it locked to certain hardware.
    For example, I have a single copy of WinXP Pro on a 300GB Raptor HDD.
    I enjoy removing said drive and inserting in one of three computers with DIFFERENT HARDWARE depending on what I want to do.
    Sure, it might be easier to pirate another copy of WinXP, but since I PAID FOR IT RETAIL (and it was NOT the Upgrade ver
  • No... wait... Im sorry, that was just gas....

  • Fake Q: "Do you really expect me to buy your product when I can get DRM-free music that I won't lose upon upgrade, cheaper, elsewhere?"

    Real A: "Well, I think you know the answer to that."
  • by cephah (1244770) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:19PM (#26564977)
    MS Worker: "Sir, I hear you've decided to reintroduce DRM. Is this true?"
    MS Head of Mobile: "Yep, I'm bringin' it back! Hurr!" *clicks on remote, turning on Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back*

    Justin Timberlake: I'm bringin' seeexy bac-- **DRM AUTHORIZATION FAILURE, PLEASE CONTACT VENDOR FOR SUPPORT OR REPURCHASE ONLINE. THANK YOU FOR USING MSN MUSIC**

    MS Head of Mobile: "Ah damn it all."
    MS Worker: "So I'm guessing we're dropping the idea after all?"
    MS Head of Mobile: "Nonsense! Call a press conference, I'll just use my cunning wit and charm to sell this idea to the masses. They'll love it!"
    MS Worker: "*sigh* Yes, Sir."
  • Cut the bullshit with things like DRM. Your customers want speed and reliability from your products. Rip the DRM out of Windows Vista and Windows 7 completely. Focus all of your efforts on fixing the hardware compatibility issues and performance. You are in potentially very dangerous waters now with Apple's new Snow Leopard release coming in the near future, a release that is almost entirely focused on longterm performance enhancements.

    Hollywood wants you to piss off your customers. Hollywood doesn't give a

  • by psnyder (1326089) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @04:40PM (#26565331)

    I have very intelligent friends, usually over 30, that just have no idea about computers, and frankly don't care. It's as interesting to them as how their toaster works. They come to me with their computer issues and the phrase I hear often is, "I hate this. Technology is supposed to make life easier."

    They're frustrated and rightfully so. Some will undoubtedly buy into crap like this, and not understand why they can't have their music anymore. They'll get frustrated, angry, or cry, and try silly things to put the music on their computer or new phones. Another phrase I hear often: "I was up half the night trying to get this to work."

    The people who sell things like this are putting out a product they know to be inferior. They rationalize it with ideas like, "people have a choice" and "people may actually prefer this layout and never realize the drawbacks."

    But in the end, my friends would have a bought a better product for less if this crap hadn't been around. And when they can't do what they thought they should be able to do, they don't know why, and they get very upset. Crap like this ruins the days of many, many people. It's avoidable and it's the fault of people who put plans like this into action.

    They're screwing people over to make a buck, plain and simple.

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340

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