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Microsoft Media Music

Microsoft to Launch Online Music Store 416

yonnage writes "Microsoft is expected to enter the online song store market this week, which should put the software giant head-to-head with Apple Computer in the music business at last. The launch of Microsoft's iTunes rival will be timed along with the beta release of Microsoft's new Windows Media Player 10, expected on Thursday, sources say. The store will also be in beta mode, lacking some of the features that will be added later, sources said."
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Microsoft to Launch Online Music Store

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  • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:04AM (#10119069)
    "The big business goal here is Microsoft wants to promote the Windows format to sell more PCs and to get people to upgrade," Directions of Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff said.
    Director: Cut. OK, that's a wrap.

    Rosoff: Wasn't I supposed to say this bit about how we allow customers to burn downloaded playlists ten times?

    Director: Oops. Sorry. I forgot to blank that out.

    Rosoff: And what's this Apple logo doing over here?

    Director: Like I said, I forgot to blank some things out. We're done. Thanks. Go home.

  • by romper ( 47937 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:05AM (#10119072)
    Finally, an alternative to the monopolistic Apple iTunes!

    Oh, wait...
    • I wonder if Microsoft's portable player will have a short-lived, non-replaceable battery? Otherwise, you'd never upgrade your player. Relax, it's a joke.
      • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Informative)

        by oscast ( 653817 )
        Thankfuly, Apple's iPod batteries have a long life and are in fact replaceable.
        • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:52AM (#10119705) Homepage
          Everything is replacable if you are willing to break open the case and put a third party battery in (voiding the warranty in the process).

          However it isn't exactly the same a changing the AA batteries in your remote control is it?

          • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Informative)

            by Neophytus ( 642863 ) *
            If the battery dies in warrenty then you can just send it back, it's a redundant point that a voided warrenty can be uh... voided more.

            Once it's open it's not hard to install one of these [google.com]. They have fitted plugs, like your PC fan. It's a standard battery too. Used in some PDAs, and the like.
          • You can replace the battery through Apple's own battery replacement program without voiding the warranty: see here [apple.com]
            • by Mr Guy ( 547690 )
              It boggles my mind that you consider this equivalent to sticking a new pair of AAAs in a handy slot in on the back of a device.
              • by HuguesT ( 84078 )
                Disclaimer: I don't have an iPod and don't plan to get one, but I don't see what you are complaining about.

                Most small electronic gadgets use proprietary batteries now, e.g. digital cameras, mobile phones. This is because Li-Ion batteries can be made very flat, small and light.

                You can buy an iPod new battery online and install it yourself if you want. This is hardish to do because the device is tiny but not beyond the skill of most people. If you don't feel like opening your iPod, Apple can do it for you f
      • I wonder if Microsoft's portable player will have a short-lived, non-replaceable battery? Otherwise, you'd never upgrade your player.

        Nah, MS is moving into the battery market next and all of it's devices will require a porperly licensed MS XPXPXP Batteries. Need to charge your XPXPXP batteries? Plug the special MS charger into the USB port of your computer and purchase recharge time at MSN.com... WARNING: Charging your XPXPXP batteries with a non-MS charger could cause an electrical surge damaging your ho

      • by jeffehobbs ( 419930 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @01:48PM (#10121183) Homepage

        I don't understand this argument -- specifically when made on slashdot; it seems like most readers of slashdot would welcome an excuse to take their iPods apart and replace the battery.

    • I love this sound-bite that WMA oe windows media is somehow more "open" and gives you more "choices". No it gives you one choice MS software and MS sanctioned music outlets.

      THink about it. IN the long run which are you going to spend more money on, the player or the music. The music. do really want to save 30 bucks buying a rio or a whatever to play your MS locked in music. Or do you want the best you can get. freedom is overated I think.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:05AM (#10119073)
    None of these hurdles is trivial, particularly in a business such as selling downloadable music, where actual margins remain only a few pennies per song sold. The real core of Microsoft's goal has little to do with e-commerce and everything to do with selling Windows, analysts said.

    No it has nothing to do with selling Windows. It has to do with furthering the MSFT domination in every single technological market that they can slide their way into. The XBox hardware doesn't make them money but they are still getting their name out there and making money via some other channel (additional hardware, monthly Live subscriptions, royalties, whatever).

    This is going to be no different. Get the people used to the MSN Music Store. Get them buying songs. Get them buying hardware. Get them used to seeing it in Windows. Make it an integral part of Windows. DRM the BIOS, DRM the OS, and DRM the Music, DRM the hardware/player, RIAA is happy, people get their Music, people are happy, money comes in, Bill is happy.

    When the market is comfortable with seeing WMP and MSN media everywhere they are going to LOVE seeing it in their favorite theatre, on their favorite DVD, etc. Then the MPAA is happy and they will happily embrace the format which they are currently rejecting.

    What I want to know is when WMP is going to just NOT work when you won't let it phone in what you have been watching/listening to. I've been waiting for that day to come. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened in WMP10-1 or WMP11. It's not like 99% of the people don't know that it is doing it and it's not like they care if it is. Most of these people don't have firewalls and even if they do they happily click to allow it to connect out permanently. Anything to make that annoying little box stop popping up.

    Tin foil alert level is currently Orange but may raise when the MSN music store gains a foothold.
    • by cbelt3 ( 741637 ) <cbelt.yahoo@com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:09AM (#10119140) Journal
      Let's see- Micro$osft unites with RIAA and MPAA. Next up will be Micro-Pec Oil, Micro-China Manufacturing, etc.... Does anyone else see the impending doom ?
    • by DarkBlackFox ( 643814 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:21AM (#10119304)
      Theoretically it won't take long to get a foothold. Internet Explorer isn't the most widely used browser because it is "the best," but because it came bundled with Windows- it's already there for people to use. The same may happen with this, if either 1) it's bundled with the retail/OEM versions of XP with Service Pack 2, or 2) with Automatic Update (and install) conveniently turned on by default on most XP SP2 machines, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it pop up out of seemingly no where. Imagine all those people who use Internet Explorer "because it's there" suddenly see a "buy legal music online from Microsoft!" icon suddenly appear on the desktop. Why hassle downloading and installing iTunes, when it's already there?

      I usually try to distance myself from the tinfoil hat crowd, but given Microsoft's history of "success" in the desktop software market, it wouldn't at all surprise me to see this hapen.
      • by prell ( 584580 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @03:58PM (#10122461) Homepage
        Internet Explorer isn't the most widely used browser because it is "the best," but because it came bundled with Windows- it's already there for people to use. The same may happen with this[..]
        All the technology that will allow WMP 10 and the music store to work (e.g. DRM protection and the ability to play music) will be built into DirectX, and DirectX will be integrated into Windows. This is how IE already is; you may be able to delete "IEXPLORE.EXE," but you can never be rid of the libraries that IE is built out of. Have you ever wondered why IE starts up so quickly? It's because the rendering engine is built into Explorer (the program that gives you icons and the "start menu" and associated toolbars), and Windows uses Explorer as the default UI. Try it yourself: run "EXPLORER.EXE," type a URL into the pathname text box, and hit enter. Surprise! You're using IE!

        If history is a guide, Microsoft will use the same tactics it used to integrate IE into the OS, to integrate DirectX (and therefore the DRM tools) into the operating system, assuming they haven't been already. If only we could view the source code for DirectX, we could know what someone else has installed on our computer and has left lying dormant. I don't think it's responsible to Trojan-horse features onto a user's computer without them knowing, and then claim sanctuary under a license agreement. In other words, if those features are already on my computer, they had damn well better have been explicitly declared to me well before I signed a license agreement.

        Nobody owns my computer but me. Microsoft has no right to load my computer with features that I don't want and can't get rid of. Would you buy a car that costs 25% more than it should, simply because the manufacturer added more features than you needed? Of course you wouldn't! I build my computers, and that includes software. Operating systems should not be an all-or-nothing thing. You don't want the clock? Fine, no clock! You don't want DirectX or an HTML renderer? Fine!

        So, when Microsoft gets busted for unfair pricing, is it because they're overpricing, or is it because they had to fund R&D on features that the end user can't use, can't find, and can't get rid of?

        And that's just the insidious way that Microsoft is able to get away with nothing more than fines: nobody in any branch of government understands what "MSHTML.DLL" is, or what integrating it into the operating system really means. All they know is that there's an icon in the toolbar, and when you click it, it opens up a window.

        Cars, skyscrapers, airplanes, poured cement. All these things are easy to test and inspect by either overseeing their construction or taking them apart and looking at what's inside. Who looks at software? Nobody.
    • Except MS doesn't dominate in all fields. They've cut all hardware except mice and keyboards. Their home software (outside Encarta) was a disaster (remember Microsoft Beethoven?) The Xbox doesn't have anywhere close to the market share they were hoping for. Very few people use MSN.

      What MS is doing is no different than Apple, although they actually aren't quite as bad because they're not locking people into hardware they create. Also, if the system is anything like iTunes, the songs themselves won't ne
  • Interesting... (Score:2, Interesting)

    No mention of the DRM restrictions on the songs...
    • It's one of Microsoft's favourite strategys ;)
    • No mention of the DRM restrictions on the songs...

      *Of course* there's no mention! Microsoft isn't going to strut around saying, "we've got a music store like Apple, BUT WE RESTRICT OUR MUSIC EVEN MORE! You'll love it, trust us."

      BTW, I have 6 invites. If anyone wants one, I'll happily give them out. I've got nothing better to do with them anyway.
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 )
      Don't be naive. Microsoft will likely use its homegrown Digital Rights Management scheme, known as Janus [eet.com]
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SilentChris ( 452960 )
      Maybe because MS doesn't want to be the one who makes the decision on that. A while back Wired had an article about a "future" home MS created that was demonstrated in 2 versions: one that recognized who you were when you walked through your door, started playing music you liked and pumped it to rooms of the house as you walked around. The other version was DRM-encrusted and limited. MS didn't say which version it condones: it just wanted to show visions of the future.
  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:06AM (#10119092)
    The RIAA should love to be associated intimately with Microsoft for the same reason that a plump girl should hang out with fat girls - to look good by comparison.

  • by prisen ( 578061 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:07AM (#10119109)
    The launch of Microsoft's iTunes rival will be timed along with the beta release of Microsoft's new Windows Media Player 10

    http://www.micro soft.com/windows/windowsmedia/mp10/default.aspx

    WMP10 Beta has been out for a while, so that's kind of confusing..
  • Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:07AM (#10119118)
    Microsoft will immediately become number two, and perhaps number one, if not almost straight away, with a shoddier product, and years earlier than they'd otherwise have been able to had it not been for Apple once again pioneering this market.
    • That's what Apple gets for playing the First To Market Blues every goddamned time.
    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:13AM (#10119198) Homepage Journal
      Many around here think Microsoft has been a big pile of Number Two for quite a while now...
    • Re:Prediction (Score:3, Insightful)

      by killjoe ( 766577 )
      You forgot.

      MS will relase a thousand press releases about how "innovative" their services is. If the govt tries to intervene they will complain that govt regulations are preventing them from "innovating" apple's ideas and technologies.
    • by Epistax ( 544591 )
      Interestingly enough I want both sides to lose. Thus I hope what happens is each company gets in a price war until eventually each song costs $0.01. Then I want a mass download to ensue and for the RIAA to send the bill (that is who they pay, isn't it?) to Microsoft and Apple. This will suck both companies bone dry and the influx of money into the RIAA will cause such a gravitational force that it will collapse in on itself and get sucked into another dimension.

      Oh yeah and it'd be nice if some of the m
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If Microsoft could get enough MP3-player vendors to sign up for compatiblity, it can once again screw Apple out of the market.
    • How is this a troll? Microsoft did screw Apple out the market before, why do you think that Apple only has a 3% desktop marketshare? They did it by getting OEM x86 PC manufactures to sell their OS. Since Microsoft isn't selling a hardware media player, they need exisiting MP3 manufactures. Sure it won't be as nice as the iPod and iTunes, but it didn't matter before either.
      • Could be if MS gets all the MP3 venders to use some version of an MS embeded Media Player blah blah on their hardware....

        Very conceivable that MS could make an OS that will run on a more standardized MP3 player and fully integrate with the MS music store ala ipod & itunes.

        Although, looking at the MS track record for producing what they'd like (and it working) smart money says "immenant failure".

  • by JasonUCF ( 601670 ) <{moc.orplnj} {ta} {twadhsals-nosaj}> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:10AM (#10119155) Homepage
    And I own the most popular portable music player, so um, how do they expect to entice me to switch? Like Real did with their half priced songs? ****a please.

    I haven't even up(down)graded to WMP 9 yet, it's so sticky with DRM issues.
  • I bet Michael Bolton is going to $profit$, not to forget contemporary hip hop and Britney Spears.
  • by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <cificap_4k>> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:12AM (#10119179) Homepage Journal
    A group of hackers announced today that they have cracked the DRM on Microsoft's new online music. Upon hearing the news, Steve Ballmer responded by getting mad and punching a hole in the wall.
  • by Mateito ( 746185 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:13AM (#10119195) Homepage
    What they're not telling you its that there are only four songs [microsoft.com] available through the service.
  • Granted it's only in BETA, but will it be insecure? Will there be patches weekly to fix vulnerabilities that will allow someone to compomise my machine? Will there be patches to correct vulnerabilities whereby someone can steal my account information? Mostly will this application / integration allow someone to install code and access my registry? Lastly of course, will this Windows Media 10 upgrade break some of my applications and screw up SP2 for XP thereby making my machine not boot?

    I have come to expec

  • Here they are, richest company on the planet, monopoly in their marketplace, and they aren't satisfied.

    It's not about "choice" -- it's about Microsoft.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Microsoft is not the richest.
      Get your facts right.
      IBM, Dell, GE, Walmart etc. there are about 120 other companies which have more money than Microsoft.
    • No, you're not *quite* right.

      It is about choice. It's about which of the many high-quality and innovative Microsoft products you have to choose from. Choices abound!

      For precedent, remember Henry Ford's possibly apocryphal statement: "Any color, as long as it's black"

      Remember, kids: Microsoft is looking out for us. They're our friends. They're helping us with all the potential pitfalls of potentially incompatible competitors' products. All they ask is that absolutely everything we buy, see or do is made b
    • From a business standpoint, no large company is ever satisfied with where it is. The theory is that you have to grow or die.

      If you were a Microsoft stockholder, would you want the company to look at the pile of money out there in the music business and say, "No thanks, I couldn't possibly eat another bite, I'm full"?

      Companies exist to make money for their shareholders. That's the only reason they exist. Unlike a person, the company doesn't have a conscience. There are things you wouldn't do for money,
  • Every new music store offers the same music, just ties you to a different media player. iTunes Music Store, by virtue of being the first, has a greater foothold in the market.

    Microsoft has to find a way to be better than iTunes, rather than just selling music in the .wma format. Otherwise, I don't think they'll be beating out iTunes any time soon. Challenging it, yes. Ending up the most popular, no. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I would think by now that those who were going to purchase music online wo

  • Isn't it surprising that Microsoft is entering this business late and big? Now that it's proven profitable, all that 'built in advertising' stuff the windows group can do kinda leverages things pretty well... Your windows supplier can now know:
    what you read online
    what you listen to
    what you buy
    and what you watch
    so it can 'market' to you better... I know this is nothing new but maybe these 'free market' guys should have been closer behind Msoft's breakup... If Microsoft goes into commercial sale
  • that the name of the MS music store will be:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:16AM (#10119228)
    All songs will be sung by Steve Ballmer.

    These people have no shame!

  • I Think Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hipster_doofus ( 670671 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:17AM (#10119247) Homepage
    I quit using Napster because I didn't really like the Windows Media Player, or the Microsoft DRM technology. Why would I switch back just because MS has their own music store? The music store marketplace is becoming too saturated now and the only way for anyone to distinguish themselves is with a great hardware accessory - like Apple's iPod.

    Apple is well in the lead and I don't see them losing the lead unless MS comes up with something better than just another "hey, me too!" store.
    • Re:I Think Not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cephyn ( 461066 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:31AM (#10119417) Homepage
      But they will. What many people forget is that Microsoft tends to make good, if not great, products when they don't have a monopoly. Once they have that monopoly, they tend to abandon it and/or lose focus on improving it.
      • Re:I Think Not (Score:3, Interesting)

        I don't care if they have the best software design in the world for their music store: if they don't have better hardware than the iPod, it isn't going to matter.

        I totally agree with you on your point (IE absolutely stomped Netscape's butt back in the day - now look at what a pile it has become compared to recent Netscape/Mozilla versions), but that was a simple software-on-software comparison. This is a little more complex because it involves cash transactions and hardware - not just a software technolo
        • by garcia ( 6573 ) *
          I don't care if they have the best software design in the world for their music store: if they don't have better hardware than the iPod, it isn't going to matter.

          They have something MUCH better than Apple as far as hardware goes... Freedom of choice.
  • All he seems to be able to do is copy other peoples' ideas, then act like he had the idea first.

    Windows was copied from Apple Macintosh, but now nobody can use the name "Windows" except Microsoft.

    Oracle and PostgreSQL are SQL servers, so Bill grabs the name "SQL Server" and acts like the market for databases is supposed to belong to him.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that.
    • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:30AM (#10119407) Homepage
      Oracle and PostgreSQL are SQL servers, so Bill grabs the name "SQL Server" and acts like the market for databases is supposed to belong to him.

      Err...no. The name "SQL Server" comes from Sybase, the company who they originally licensed from. It's also why both Sybase and MS SQL Server have quite a bit in common with Transact SQL, though they vary significantly in dialect.


    • Think about it.. how much lower is his bottom line because his R&D costs are that much less?

      He's not just following Apple, BTW. Dell's got the Jukebox, Rio was the first portable MP3 player out there IIRC, there are a handful of USB key/MP3 players out there as well. MSFT is just capitalizing on the settling player market, getting in when the cost to develop the technology is the lowest. They'll pick and choose the featureset of the lowest common denominator, undercut all the other devices on the marke
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:20AM (#10119289) Journal
    There's no way that Microsoft's music store will anything like the cachet that the iTunes Music Store has. Microsoft, as a hip brand name, trails far behind Jenny Craig Mac & Cheese. But then again, if they make their songs playable on every non-iPod device out there, they'll pick up the lion's share of the market in no time. Good luck getting it all to work right, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:21AM (#10119299)
    "The store will also be in beta mode, lacking some of the features that will be added later"

    No to be a picky bastard or anyhing, but projects without full features was called alpha state to me, last time I checked, while full featured, still in-test is beta.
  • by farzadb82 ( 735100 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:21AM (#10119302)
    "The store will also be in beta mode, lacking some of the features that will be added later, sources said"

    Isn't this how all their software works ?

  • by Blacklantern ( 658383 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:22AM (#10119319)
    ..first need a device to be an "IPod killer" until I RTA
    A second leg of that campaign is bearing fruit this year, as a wave of Windows-based entertainment hardware comes to market. Some of these will be portable devices, dubbed Portable Media Centers, running a slimmed-down version of Windows that includes Microsoft's new Janus copy-protection tools. This technology is expected to give a boost to subscription services by allowing the music to be put on portable devices for the first time.
    emphasis mine

    Why on earth would you need a Windows GUI on a device the with the same comparible size and power of an Ipod?

    I wonder if in the future they'll bundle Media player 10 and the MS music store with Longhorn.
    • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:32AM (#10119431)
      I've seen windows CE (later called Pocket PC, later called Windows Mobile) described as a "slimmed down version of windows" on many occasions. Could it be possible that their attempt at an ipod killer will be a "lookie maw it's a music player that also does all this cool PDA stuff too" type of device. As somewhat of a PDA nerd, I can tell you that lots of PDA people have been jonesing for a PDA with a massive built-in hard drive, ala ipod. My ipaq 2210 plays MP3s and even some movie files quite well, and if flash storage wasn't so damn expensive, I would most certainly use it as an ipod replacement, and it's not even designed for it. Make a PDA with controls specifically intended for media playback, a slick looking form factor, and a massive hard drive, and I bet you could take a significant chunk out of the ipod sales.
  • Screw MS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:23AM (#10119331) Homepage Journal
    Cant they leave anything alone, do they have to absorb EVERTHING, then reduce its quality.

    I know i know, yes they have to ruin the world.. but i can still be annoyed at it..

    grr. note to self: need to take action.. stop evil empire..
  • by Hieronymus Howard ( 215725 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:23AM (#10119336)
    The store will also be in beta mode, lacking some of the features that will be added later, sources said.

    Like security?
    • Now, now- no need to get snippy. They just assured us when we can expect security- 2011. In the mean time, please enjoy this feature rich extension that enables you to listen to your favorite piano riff while an Uzbekestanian terrorist markets kiddy porn and automatic weapons from your PC.
  • by hey ( 83763 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:24AM (#10119351) Journal
    There oughta be a law!
  • Partner Driven (Score:2, Interesting)

    by erick99 ( 743982 )
    I do like the idea of a Windows Media Player based music store that is driven primarily by Microsoft partners. That leaves a lot of room for innovation and maybe the competition won't hurt anyone either. I don't really view this as Apple versus Microsoft, but, rather as a pie that is plenty big enough to be cut up more than a few times.



  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:33AM (#10119445) Journal
    MS is the leader in beating dead horses. The XBOX, security, and now - music.

    \ MS will say that they are at the top of their game, until they are (which in some cases is never). They have the money to make mistakes like no one else. They can have no features, barest functionality, poor implementation, and still create hype and users - all through the marvel of $$$.

    The Apple iTunes store doesn't have anything to worry about for a long while, but MS will beat their dead horse until its a threat. Not a big threat. Nobody cool is going to use MS's service.

    At the end of the day - that's what it's all about.

    • dealerships (Score:3, Informative)

      by xixax ( 44677 )
      A relative of mine was telling me that in his industry (auto related), the nationals will open stores near independants and cheerfully run them at a loss for over 10 years to close them. We used to look to government for this kind of foreward thinking. MS is cashed up enough to cut off anyone else's oxygen.

  • They sell 160 kbps VBR tracks. Should at least sound better than 128 kbps tracks Apple sells. Now if they offered higher bitrates, and gave you a choice there, we'd have a winner.
  • Whatever about the USA, do you really think the EU (or manywhere else) which has already mandated that MS allow the inclusion of alternative media players are going to allow MS to extend their monopoly in this direction? If they do they may as well take the laws pertaining to abusive monopolies off the books!
  • iTunes will win out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The_Terminalator ( 696236 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:35AM (#10119472)
    Something to keep in mind:

    1. The Law of Leadership: It is better to be first in the market than better. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo, who was the second? Bert Hinkler. He was a better pilot, he flew faster, consumed less fuel but no one remembers him. The leading brand in any category is almost always the first brand into the prospects mind. Hertz in rent-a-cars, IBM in computers, Coca-Cola in cola.

    2. The Law of the Category: If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in. Who was the third person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean? If you didn't know the second, you figure you don't know the third, right? But you do, its Amelia Earhart. Now, is Earhart the third person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean or the first woman to do so?

    3. The Law of the Mind: Its better to be first in the mind than to be first in the market. Is something wrong with the law of leadership? No, but the law of the mind modifies it. Its better to be first in the prospects mind than first in the marketplace. Which if anything, understates the importance of first in the mind. Being first in the marketplace is important only to the extent that it allows you to get into the mind first.


    The 22 Immutable laws of Marketing

    Violate them at your own risk!

    By: Al Ries and Jack Trout
  • Why MS Tunes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:50AM (#10119669)
    With all the brainpower here, it's surprising that nobody's asked "why is Microsoft doing this?"

    When iTMS came out, MS said explicitly that it wasn't going to get into the music download business. It's partners (or, I suppose, potential victims) already had large investments in online storefronts, and its other partners already sold WMA-enabled devices.

    So why did MS decide to get into music?

    I think the HP/Apple deal had something to do with it. One of MS' biggest customers went with another vendor (Apple). That must have galled MS. The PC side has device vendors and music stores, but there was no single-vendor solution. The WMA hardware vendors were probably complaining to Mama that MS wasn't helping them on the software side.

    And when you look at it, how stable is are the WMA-based music stores? Real? Napster? Wal-Mart? Any of them could flake out at any moment, deciding that the business wasn't good enough. None of them are stable enough for a real long-term partnership.

    By providing an MS music store, MS removes one barrier to WMA-based music stores: vendor instability. It supports the WMA-licensees. It opens up licensing opportunities.

    Note there's no consumer benefit here, really.

    The question is will MS be able to run this afterthought storefront?

    iTMS is about the iPod, not Apple. People use iTMS because it's easy and nice to use, and it works with their pod. MS Music is about...hardware vendor support?

    It'll be interesting to see how long MS Music lasts, and more interesting to see who the first few licensees will be.
  • by linuxbaby ( 124641 ) * on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:52AM (#10119691)
    You know my company, CD Baby, is one of the companies supplying a huge chunk of music to iTunes, Rhapsody, Emusic, Napster, etc.

    A few months ago I was at a music conference when I got into a deep discussion with this guy about our love of West African music. He's been doing an African music radio show for 20 years, and has met Fela Kuti, and been in this band doing Afropop, too.

    So after half an hour of talking about this, I said, "I'm sorry I don't know your name." - and I flipped around his badge. He was one of the heads of Microsoft MSN Music! I cringed a bit and said, "Oh. Uh. Microsoft? Whoa." I'm generally a MSFT-basher. But I said, "Well --- it's nice to know they have someone like you inside the big beast."

    He said, "I was surprised, too, but guess what? They actually found 8 other guys like me, too. People who have been in the music side of the music biz for at least 10 years. People running folk radio shows, and jazz magazine editors and such. Real MUSIC people. And they told us to make the online music store of our dreams."

    They're going to be selling the entire CD Baby Digital Distribution catalog - and in fact they pursued us pretty strongly. Even on the tech-side of things, they're really doing everything right. (Yeah yeah of course they insist on DRM. You expected Ogg Vorbis?)

    But anyway I just felt you have to give credit where credit is due, and I can tell my fellow Slashdot nerds in advance that I think the MSN Music Store is really doing it right.
    • yeah, I've had similar experiences really meeting the "nice guys" from within MS. One time I even had a 20 minute discussion w/MS' CFO (John Connors) about the exorbitant prices for their development tools (Visual Studio, among others). He nodded his head in agreement, at the end of the conversation said, "You really have a good point about this -- I'm going to have my people look into this..." Later that day before he left the conference, he got up to announce his departure and said, "Some of you asked

    • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @01:25PM (#10120913)
      He said, "I was surprised, too, but guess what? They actually found 8 other guys like me, too. People who have been in the music side of the music biz for at least 10 years. People running folk radio shows, and jazz magazine editors and such. Real MUSIC people. And they told us to make the online music store of our dreams."

      It's people like that who get people like you to sign deals. This really reminds me of that write up on how the big labels use ex-members of indie bands to get new bands to sign contracts. "How bad could they be, they are just like us?".

      Just imagine a day when MS has a 100% control over online music and they want to "renegotiate" their contract to "better suit" the "consumer". Any label that hands MS the rights to distribute their music is putting themselves in a position where the network effect will force them to have a lower position when doing business with MS.
  • by cexshun ( 770970 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:54AM (#10119734) Homepage

    The store will also be in beta mode, lacking some of the features that will be added later, sources said.

    Seems to me that lately, Beta no longer means a testing phase. It now means "Hurry and saturate the market with an incomplete product so we can make money now and take business away from competitors!"

  • by Armchair Dissident ( 557503 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @11:59AM (#10119822) Homepage
    The company is helping to create a "Plays for sure" logo that will be used by device makers and online music services to assure consumers that purchases from participating companies will be compatible with each other, sources familiar with the plans say.

    I think its fair to say then that, somewhat ironically, Apple won't be one of their partners. I'm fairly sure that Jobs won't want a "Plays for sure" logo on iPods, or iTMS. Which makes me wonder:

    Given the huge popularity of iTMS and the iPod so far, will we see the beginning of another "Betamax vs VHS"-style technology battle? Will this be the move that forces Apple to license FairPlay in order to keep sales of iPods up? After all, if this is likely to be bundled in future versions of Windows, or even - perhaps - in future interim releases, then that's some 9x% of the planet with a music player that's tied to services that aren't apple, and using a music format that is not compatible with the iPod.

    Or (somewhat unlikely), is this going to be the service that people finally realise what it means to be locked into vendor platforms? After all, all I saw on zdnet was a mention that it used Janus for DRM encoding - what was not mentioned was what limited rights was it permitting you to exercise? Surely if something like this hits the mainstream music-buying public there will be some kind of backlash.
  • by tehanu ( 682528 ) on Tuesday August 31, 2004 @12:31PM (#10120252)
    Many people are concentrating on the threat to iTunes. However another important aspect of this is MS once again screwing over its partners, in this case, companies that licensed technology from MS to run wma based online stores. iTunes has enough name cachet and differentiation (and the most popular player iPod) so it might survive the MS monopoly abusing onslaught, but other wma based online stores are going to get slaughtered. It will be a similar situation to Telstra broadband competitors in Australia. Teltra used to be the government owned monopoly for decades. Hence they own the vast majority of the legacy backbone. They compete with Telstra but also rely on buying their backbone from Telstra. This means tactics like recently how Telstra lowered the price of their cheapest broadband *below* the wholesale price they were selling it to their competitors. And we know that MS is just as bad or even worse in terms of sleazy monopoly abusing tactics than Telstra. Also there is evidence to suggest that Telstra does things like telling people broadband is available in their suburb, but only if they are inquiring about their products. If it is a competitor's, Telstra's report comes back negative. (The guy who published this then had his broadband from Telstra revoked because it was a "mistake"). So wma online stores will be competiting with the company that provides the "backbone" AND the software vital to their survival. Not a good position and we know what MS is like.

    Also none of the wma online stores have the features that iTunes at least has to differentiate it from the MS store. They don't use different software. Their software and any prominance to any particular online store is supplied by their biggest direct competitor! What store do they think Windows media player will give prominance to. And they know perfectly well MS' business practice history esp. with regards to bundling e.g. Netscape. Any popular hardware player that plays theres will play MS's. Even the name of the format "Windows Media Audio" suggests that it is a MS product and lots of people have the idea that MS products work best with other MS products.

    Basically they are screwed. Their biggest competitor controls their fundamental technology and the way their customers use it AND has a reputation for ruthlessly abusing their monopoly powers. They might as well just close up shop now and be done with it. Only MS and iTunes will survive. But this is what you get for trusting MS I suppose...I wouldn't be surprised if MS only co-operated with the other stores long enough to get the required intelligence on how to run an online store as they've done it before and I can't see MS ever having any ideas about wanting to share a market with any competitors. Sharing is not part of the MS vision.

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near