On Microsoft And Windows Digital Media

Tom has an interesting little post about Digital Media players over at plasticbag right now (plasticbag.org on the iPod and shortsightedness on the Microsoft estate…).

He is right and the quoted correspondence from internal Microsoft people makes me see red, it really does. In fact, Microsoft’s digital music policy, makes me see red whether the quotes are true or not.

  • My set up: Long time Windows user, using Windows Media Player as my default player and buying a some music online via MSN UK (a Microsoft company). I have had mp3 players since I was given one in 1999 a leaving gift but, realistically, I’ve had a reasonable player since October 2002.
  • Music 1: I have legally purchased music from MSN’s music store that I can’t play on my players because those players don’t Play For Sure (although they did when I bought them) and the manufacturers don’t upgrade the product.
  • Music 2: I have legally purchased music from a Microsoft store that I can’t play on the laptop I just bought because I’ve exceeded my 3 licenses for media (and they don’t have any way for me to stream music from my PC which has a valid license). Of course if I’d bought a CD player this would be no problem. This is why I will stop buying music online right now (BTW, I might be able to get a new licence but this depends on the store allowing it. I shouldn’t have to go begging for a licence to play stuff I own).
  • Me: I love playing with this stuff but now it’s costing me too much money and I have no faith in Microsoft’s ability to allow me to play the music I have bought in the future.

If I’d bought an iPod and used it on Windows none of this would be an issue. It’s one piece of hardware with a software upgrade path that is supported. I understand my hardware doesn’t come from Microsoft but if they don’t persuade their partners to upgrade existing products I (and I suspect many others) will switch to a product that right now is stable, upgradable and allows me to enjoy the music I buy.

And all this frustrates me because I’m happy with wma and don’t want an iPod just because everybody has. I just want to embrace digital music but I need some confidence that I’m not throwing my money down the toilet.

It’s no wonder Microsoft employees buy iPods – they don’t all have Bill’s money to be buying another piece of hardware to do the same job over and over and buy to music they already bought.

… and all this before we talk functionality!

If I am wrong in any of this and you know of a way around it, then please let me know.

On this day…

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