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Microsoft Re-Brands PlaysForSure 194

mikesd81 writes "Information Week writes about a licensing change intended to 'beat Apple at their own game'. They're going to use a combination of branding and DRM, and replace the "PlaysForSure" logo with a "Certified for Windows Vista" tag.'The certification is used to guarantee compatibility with Microsoft's copyright-protection software and is the same logo used for the company's Zune player. The problem, however, is that music and video bought from the online Zune Marketplace won't play in their native format on other devices, including those that will carry the new logo.'"
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Microsoft Re-Brands PlaysForSure

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  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:03PM (#21687212)
    "Might play sometimes"?
    • No... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:09PM (#21687278) Journal
      ...they originally just planned to drop the 'L'.
    • some letters:

      -tex
      -en

      ie, playtex4ensure

      I could also imagine this as a password on an AOL disc...
    • by 517714 ( 762276 )
      At some point, the lawyers prevail over the marketers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wkitchen ( 581276 )
      Plays for shit.
    • "Might play sometimes"?

      no, it plays for an hour. makes you wait then reboots 3 times.

      reboots4sure might be better and more accurate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nickyj ( 142376 )
      "PlaysForSome" then in small print, "NotForMost"
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@noSpaM.smokingcube.be> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:03PM (#21687214) Homepage
    So now we're going to have Certified for Windows Vista on things that have nothing to do with Vista? Will it work on XP? That's going to be really confusing for their consumers (Microsoft doesn't have customers) especially since that logo will be found on software and hardware.

    I also don't know what music and music players have to do with Vista other than the DRM. They should rename it: "Plays only on Vista, bitches" and then say like... bitches.

    Apparently the front page is now also infected with DRM since I can't post anything and it keeps logging me out.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )
      It's their way of getting the clueless to buy Vista. They never cared about satisfied customers, and the way things are going with Vista they need every sale they get.
      • Kinda makes you wonder if the EU doesn't have a problem with this in some was as trying to confuse consumer to buy Vista?
  • = PlaysForVista

    a subtle hint for the future? ie that you will need Vista to play anything new?
    • by vought ( 160908 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:10PM (#21687300)

      a subtle hint for the future? ie that you will need Vista to play anything new?
      BINGO! As Microsoft unifies PlaysFerShure and Zune DRM, they will include the feature in Vista only, ensuring that millions of people will not care in the slightest, but cementing the reputation of their marketing department as brain dead.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:11PM (#21687310)
      Well, if the name says as much as "playsforsure" said, it means it will play on Mac, on Linux, even on your cell, but never under any circumstances on Vista.
    • Are they going to apply it to the countless terabytes of unencumbered mp3, FLAC, and avi files that get released constantly on bit torrent et al? Unless they find a way to retroactively apply DRM and convince everyone to start using it for everything there's no way their dream of a Vista requirement for media play back could ever be a reality. This is only going to apply to the--very small--group that buys music from stores that use this particular DRM. If it's really as bad as people make it out to be, the
  • What ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by terrymr ( 316118 ) <.terrymr. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:05PM (#21687226)
    How is Microsoft doing something utterly incomprehensible supposed to "beat apple at their own game ?"

    • How is Microsoft doing something utterly incomprehensible supposed to "beat apple at their own game ?"

      The very phrase itself is part of the incomprehensibility, thus everything is going to plan.
  • by DMoylan ( 65079 )
    Certified for USING Windows Vista?
  • Maybe better? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:08PM (#21687270) Homepage Journal
    Given that only Windows could handle PlayForSure, and that Microsoft was unlikely to let any other OS developers have the necessary licenses, maybe this is clearer. Maybe its clearer that this form of lock-in requires Microsoft Windows. Either way, its DRM and its nasty.
    • Because of how it uses the brand of the operating system and the word "certified." For instance iTunes can run on Windows Vista...does it have an opportunity to become "certified?" Or can only Microsoft software receive certification?

      This treads pretty close to the definition of tying--after all their copy-protection system is just one of many that can run on Windows Vista, and technically it is a distinct system, separate from the core operating system.
    • Re:Maybe better? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:15PM (#21688412)
      Perhaps they think that labelling it "Certified for Windows Vista" would help them sell more copies of Vista; if so, they're sadly mistaken. "PlaysForSure" may be tainted as a brand, but then so is "Vista". They've put lipstick on the pig, but people still won't kiss it - especially brown lipstick.
  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:09PM (#21687286) Homepage
    Well, Microsoft surely have Apple beat when it comes to customer confusion.

    How does this play with a former "PlaysForSure" device that is intended only for XP? What about the Zune (which, AFAIK, still doesn't work with PlaysForSure media, but *does* work with Vista?

    Seriously, are MS intending to hand Apple a computer media format monopoly on a silver platter?

    • I do like how this is in response to Apple's "Plays on that iPod you already own" marketing "strategy."
    • Seriously, are MS intending to hand Apple a computer media format monopoly on a silver platter?
      Apple: Why thank you Microsoft! A computer media format monopoly! How did you know?
      MS: Anything to make peace. I just want us to be friends.
      Apple: That's so sweet. And what's this? An apple? Looks delicious too...
      MS laughs evilly under its breath
  • Makes no sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:10PM (#21687304) Homepage
    This move makes no sense. PlaysForSure devices/stores are not compatible with Zune devices/stores, but they'll both carry the same logo? This defeats the entire point of the PlaysForSure branding in the first place: that any device and any store with the branding will work together.

    Somebody at Microsoft has lost their minds.
    • by mugnyte ( 203225 )

      Not quite. They have lost many things true, but I suspect the strategy here is to slowly migrate the PFS logo into the Vista/Zune world, and begin rejecting hardware that doesn't meet with the Zune/Vista level that they control alone. In other words, if nobody can match their lockdown, then they alone control the market. Yes, all of this supposes MS doesn't have to compete - so its horribly flawed.

      For example, Nokia may have a PFS-compatible device, but it won't be Zune-capable anytime so
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ruiner13 ( 527499 )
      I'm sure it makes perfect sense if you're in marketing. I, however, am not in marketing. I suspect it goes something like this:
      1. Rebrand PlaysForSure
      2. ???
      3. Profit!
    • Re:Makes no sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:01PM (#21688110) Homepage Journal
      ``This move makes no sense. PlaysForSure devices/stores are not compatible with Zune devices/stores, but they'll both carry the same logo? This defeats the entire point of the PlaysForSure branding in the first place: that any device and any store with the branding will work together.''

      BEEP. You fail it!

      Compatibility was never the idea of PlaysForSure. First of all, PlaysForSure is DRM. DRM is all about making sure things _don't_ play for sure. Secondly, Microsoft introduced the Zune with a PFS-incompatible scheme, without so much as blinking.

      I don't know what exactly the strategy is, but it smells like sucking as much money as they can out of as many idiots who will fall for it. First, they bought into PlaysForSure. Then, Microsoft introduced the Zune...which would have made Zune DRM the tech to get, had it taken off. Now, those who bought into PlaysForSure is screwed because it isn't what Microsoft's _own_ player uses. And those who bought into Zune are screwed, because nobody uses the damn thing.

      And Microsoft, who brought them to this hell, is sitting on piles of money.

      And it became night. And it became day. Just another day in monopoly land.
      • The only solution is to not buy the crap. Period. That's why the two mp3 players I've bought so far are Creative products. They'll play stuff I put on them. For sure.

        I also don't buy stuff from online music places, at least not yet. Haven't seen anything compelling.

        My wife needed a song for something she was working on, and she bought it from walmart.com. Honestly I didn't know walmart had a music store???!?. Anyway, it was a .wma file. Red flag number 1. I do not, and do not plan to, and advise
        • by Myopic ( 18616 )
          The only solution is to not buy the crap. Period.

          Luckily, and shockingly, unlike most market situations where consumers just sit back, receive bad service and products, and pay for them anyway, in this case (the larger case of DRM) it seems that consumers are doing the right thing and not buying it. That's all libertarians like me ask: if a product sucks, don't buy it, and tell your friends not to buy it, either. If we all did that we'd have a market with astronomically higher standards.

          So music playback pr
      • Compatibility was never the idea of PlaysForSure. First of all, PlaysForSure is DRM. DRM is all about making sure things _don't_ play for sure.
        Off to Room 101 you go...
    • The new brand features Vista prominently... the idea is not to sell MP3 players for rival hardware manufacturers, but to use rival MP3 player manufacturers to sell Vista. The schizo aspect of it is they are also trying to sell their DRM to "content holders" and I suspect that this is much the same problem for them as Sony electronics conflicting with Sony entertainment is an ongoing problem for Sony.
    • by Myopic ( 18616 )
      How is that different than the situation before, where you had products labeled PLAYS FOR SURE but the media did not, in fact, play for sure? How can anything be more confusing than by being named the opposite of what it does?

      (As an aside, that's how Bush got the Every Child Left Behind act, the Dirty Air And Water act, the UNPATRIOTIC act, etc.)
  • Why not just no DRM? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PeterChenoweth ( 603694 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:10PM (#21687306)
    Unlike many slashdotters, I don't have a big problem with Microsoft. Writing software with their tools pays my bills. But it baffles me as to why they can't figure out that their whole DRM plan is broken. First they create a 'Plays For Sure' system, but then they release their own player that doesn't work with it. Who was the genius that decided that? It's as if Apple had different DRM's for different versions of the iPod. And now *another* name change? They just can't figure it out.

    If Microsoft wants to win customers from Apple, they should just drop DRM all together. If Amazon and Apple (iTunes+) can do it, why not Microsoft?

    • If Microsoft wants to win customers from Apple, they should just drop DRM all together. If Amazon and Apple (iTunes+) can do it, why not Microsoft?

      Probably because that would show everyone that the delays in Vista, the crappy performance due to inserting DRM everywhere and all the customer alienation they have been working on the last years, was a complete and total waste of time that adds no value to the people that are supposed to buy their OS, and probably a waste of shareholder $$$.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If Microsoft wants to win customers from Apple, they should just drop DRM all together. If Amazon and Apple (iTunes+) can do it, why not Microsoft?

      You are forgetting that Microsoft was and still is -- despite Gates' quote -- a huge proponent for DRM. Microsoft wants to be the gatekeeper to the entertainment world and to the connected living room. DRM was/is their vision of this tollbooth. Consumers buy electronics using Microsoft licensed technology, entertainment producers license softwares based on Micro

    • Microsoft's business model is profoundly dependent on blocking competition. In a sense, its market dominance not only facilitates this approach, but necessitates it.

      It normally achieves this by using software to lock the user in and the competitors out. Success depends on (stealthily) restricting customers' and competitors' freedom.

      Almost all vendors (including Apple and Amazon) play this game - but none of them are as committed or well-practiced as MS.

      That's why MS can't and won't abandon market-restrictin
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:13PM (#21687356)
    As in "It plays for me. The problem must be on your end."

    Hey, why shouldn't MS copy the ancient excuse of every tech support on the planet for their products? They copy everything else.
    • Hey, why shouldn't MS copy the ancient excuse of every tech support on the planet for their products?

      That's probably one of the few genuine Microsoft inventions... they just trained their MCSEs well in the use of the dark side of the force.

      • I'm fairly sure the "it works like it should on my end" excuse has been with us since the caveman accidently impaled his buddy with a spear, who complained and got that answer.
        • Yeah, but Microsoft trademarked it and turned it into a mainstream commercial product. Hell, it's practically their entire business model - plausible deniability. Something's broken? Oh, that must be a problem with your hardware. Not your hardware? Oh, that must be a problem with your third-party software.
  • The original text should have read ProfitableForMicrosoft, because that's the only meaning I can infer from the original PlaysForSure program.

    The closest thing that comes to defining the spirit of the phrase "PlaysForSure" is the MP3 format, because it will play on the highest percentage of hardware in existence.

    Dan East
  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:14PM (#21687382)

    Riiiiight

    Becuase Apple's game was to promote the iPod as being exclusively for one platform, and having multiple incompatible DRM formats. Funny, I though Apple did the opposite, and (unusually for Apple) made the iPod cross-platform, and implemented fairly simple DRM that is consistent across all its products.

  • i for one (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:15PM (#21687390)
    do not welcome our restrictive drm laden asshat overlords
  • No WMA? No problem! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:20PM (#21687478) Homepage
    Thats not a bug, thats a feature! Microsoft is trying to get people to use greener, less CPU-intensive codecs like MP3 to save power and the environment.

    Kidding aside, what is Microsoft's business plan with the Zune??? Judging from the vast numbers of deeply-discounted Zunes being dumped into the market (I bought mine for $80 on Woot), they can't possibly be making money on the hardware. The software is so terrible that I only use it when my music collection changes substantially, and their music store certainly doesn't have much going for it right now. What is the "attachment rate" for Zune store purchase? Its probably shockingly low.

    The whole thing reminds me of Xbox 1 (and the 360 to some extent) where Microsoft deeply discounted the hardware hoping to make money on the software, but then didn't because their projections of attachment rates were completely off and the hardware was selling at just too great of a loss.
    • Kidding aside, what is Microsoft's business plan with the Zune??? Judging from the vast numbers of deeply-discounted Zunes being dumped into the market (I bought mine for $80 on Woot), they can't possibly be making money on the hardware.

      Maybe they are just trying to take some of the wind out of Apple's cash cow? Seriously, I love my iPod, but even I'd buy a Zune at that price if I were in the market for an MP3 player. Maybe the dumping is deliberate?

      Ooooor, they could just be as incompetent as they seem. I'm not into conspiracy theories, and William of Ockham would probably choose incompetence.

  • by amigabill ( 146897 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:22PM (#21687502)
    I use XP. I'm not interested in Vista. Certified for Vista doesn't make me fell like I can use this stuff... I'll also assume it won't work on my ipod. What about my Sansa with Rockbox? Still dunno. I feel safer _avoiding_ "Certified for Windows Vista" items.
  • stupid enough to license this technology? I mean, this'll have to wake up any remaining hold-outs.
  • I won't use MS audio products because I need to use them with Vista and not with my OS of choice.

    sed -e 's/MS/Apple/g' -e 's/Vista/iTunes/g'

    Here's to my $30 2GB Hong Kong-made MP3 player that mounts under "/mnt/player"!

  • by DieByWire ( 744043 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:39PM (#21687762)

    ...for small values of 'for sure.'

  • by Tyr_7BE ( 461429 ) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:21PM (#21688512)
    A straight up unladen MP3. THAT plays for sure.
  • One of the aspects that was mentioned in this article that is rarely talked about is ease of use. Apple has gone out of their way to make it difficult for the user to mess up. The system is fully integrated because Apple has full control over all aspects of the system. It is easy for them to make changes in the itunes store, modify the itunes software, and change the ipod firmware to reflect the changes. They can do all of this internally and push it out to their customers when they connect online next.

  • We all know Zune and PlaysForSure are incompatible.

    Can other hardware makers now abandon their PlaysForSure efforts and jump on the Zune DRM bandwagon, or will Microsoft not license it to them?

    Of course, now that both are called "Windows Vista Compatible" this idea is harder to explain... I can see it now:

    "Can we stop making Windows Vista Compatible players, and instead adopt the new Microsoft DRM scheme to make our players Windows Vista Compatible?"
  • I'm not sure about "beating Apple at their own game." With all the confusion around this renaming and whatnot, it sounds more like Microsoft is trying to beat Sun Microsystems at *their* game. This renaming/rebranding is almost as confusing as all the renaming/reversioning of Java ...
  • It's less confusing than the other names they've used.
    Also, why are companies still using this? Microsoft basically said "fuck you" to all content providers using Janus with the introduction of the Zune, and now it seems they're going even more to kill it.
  • I now feel even more repulsion towards it, congratulations MS!
  • Aw, the poor things. It looks like they wanted just one thing they could flat-out guarantee was compatible with Vista. Well, sometimes, anyway.

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

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